BP greenwashing complaint sets precedence for action on misleading ad campaigns, says environmental lawyers Client Earth.
In December 2019, ClientEarth lodged a complaint against BP’s global ‘Keep Advancing’ and ‘Possibilities Everywhere’ campaigns.
ClientEarth lawyers said the campaigns misled the public by focusing on BP’s low carbon energy products when more than 96% of BP’s annual spend is on oil and gas.
Today (June 18) the NCP, which sits within the UK’s Department for International Trade released its initial assessment of the complaint. The NCP found that ClientEarth had a legitimate interest in the complaint.
In February 2020, BP withdrew its advertisements and its CEO Bernard Looney said they would not be replaced.
If BP had not committed to withdrawing the advert, the NCP has confirmed that the campaign would have proceeded.
ClientEarth lawyer Sophie Marjanac said: ‘Oil and gas companies are spending millions to convince the public of their social licence to operate and deflect from their role in rapidly heating the planet.
‘Our complaint called on BP to take down its advertising, and we welcome its decision to do so. We took issue with BP giving the impression that it’s racing to renewables, that its gas is cleaner, and that it is part of the climate solution when the vast majority of its spend is still on fossil fuels.
‘Today’s decision sets a precedent for people to use guidelines to hold companies to account for their greenwashing on the basis of consumer interests – including in their advertising. Fossil fuel companies using advertising to mislead the public over their climate impact have been put on notice.
‘Ideally, all fossil fuel advertising should be banned unless it comes with a tobacco-style health warning about the risks of climate change, including the dangers of continuing to extract and burn fossil fuels. The public should not be misled, and fossil fuel companies must be accountable for the damage they do.’
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