Report highlights greenwashing practices from Big Oil and Gas harming health, climate and affordability

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Toronto/Traditional, Unceded Territory of the Huron-Wendat, the Anishnaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Chippewas and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation | As countries discuss a way forward on the increasingly urgent climate crisis at COP28, a new report by Greenpeace Canada and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) exposes widespread greenwashing practices fossil fuel companies use to maintain social license and avoid accountability for the harms they cause. ‘Greenwashing big oil & gas: the fossil fuel deception playbook’ breaks down the sophisticated greenwashing tactics that fossil fuel companies use to mislead the public into believing they are acting responsibly.

These pervasive industry tactics enable companies to sidestep accountability and perpetuate the illusion of responsibility by obscuring the truth about their products’ environmental and health impacts. 

 “The climate crisis is causing a health emergency and we know the cure: stop burning fossil fuels to protect millions of lives. But the fossil fuel industry’s deceptive and widespread greenwashing is delaying the shift to more sustainable alternatives. People in Canada deserve to know the truth. That’s why this report is so important.”

– Dr. Melissa Lem, a family physician and president of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

Last week, the federal government tabled amendments to the Competition Act, including measures to crack down on greenwashing. However, the amendments lack clear prohibitions against the specific deceptive practices laid out in the report, some of which have already been banned in Europe.

This report fills this gap by presenting a detailed analysis of Big Oil’s preferred greenwashing strategies for misleading the public. It delves into specific techniques including paltering, the deceit of carbon offsets, petro-science fictions, vague “green” buzzwords, double dipping, nature rinsing, and plain old lies. The report also highlights global efforts to combat greenwashing, offering insights into what other jurisdictions are doing to stem misinformation. 

Fossil fuel companies like Exxon denied climate change for decades and now Canadians and people around the world are paying the price as they lose their lives and homes in climate disasters and to fossil fuel pollution. By normalising fossil fuels, greenwashing delays the much-needed shift to more sustainable energy options. 

“Instead of focusing on real emissions reductions like the science tells us we need to, fossil fuel companies have been crafting misleading tactics to continue exploiting fossil fuels, harming people and the planet with impunity, and amassing enormous profits in the process. This report puts the industry’s cards on the table. We’re exposing their long-used deceptive tricks and demanding greater accountability, which the industry has evaded for far too long.”

 – Salomé Sané, Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace Canada

For readers seeking actionable steps, it concludes with a section on taking meaningful action. For example, it provides a roadmap for reporting misleading ads on X (Twitter), Facebook and Instagram and to Ad Standards Canada.

With COP28 discussions intensifying urgency of climate action, rising consumer costs due to high fossil fuel prices, the Competition Bureau’s ongoing investigation into the Canadian Gas Association’s misleading claims about gas, and pending federal changes to the Competition Act, this report is a timely catalog of big oil and gas’ playbook and offers concrete steps that government and the public can take to rein in harmful greenwashing claims. 

ENDS

Notes to editor:

[1] Greenwashing big oil & gas: the fossil fuel deception playbook 

[2] Take Action Against Fossil Fuel Greenwashing

For more information, please contact:

Adeoluwa Atayero, Communications officer, Greenpeace Canada Iatayero@greenpeace.org; +1 (306) 501-1314

Reykia Fick, Communications Director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), 647-762-9168, media@cape.ca