A report from the Center for Analysis of the Radical Right has discovered evidence of climate-related disinformation being spread during the COP27 climate summit.

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The Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD), which is comprised of more than 50 climate and anti-disinformation groups, released a report on Thursday which documented the misinformation regarding the UN’s climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The report was the result of analysis conducted by 18 organizations, lead by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, that were part of the coalition’s COP27 intelligence unit. This unit diligently followed the most widespread false and misleading narratives.

The report is from an analysis of over 850 advertisers between 1 September and 23 November 2022.

An examination uncovered that an example of fossil fuel sector-associated organizations spent approximately $4 million on Meta for paid promotions to disseminate deluding statements about climate emergency, net-zero objectives, and the need for fossil fuels preceding and during COP27. The investigation distinguished 3,781 advertisements and the majority of these were from a PR group associated with an American institute, with America’s plastic makers alone spending more than $1 million and the Saudi Green Initiative running 13 advertisements.

Analysts detected a surprising increase in content related to outright climate denial, including a spike on Twitter for the hashtag #ClimateScam since July 2022.

Disinformation campaigns often attempt to downplay the climate crisis and question the efficacy of green technology in order to boost the promotion of fossil fuels. They may also seek to portray discussions of loss and damage as a form of ‘climate reparations’.

It has recently been revealed that Sultan Ahmed Jaber has been appointed as the President for the upcoming United Nations Climate Summit. Exxon, one of the world’s biggest oil companies, had already predicted the effects of climate change in the 1970s, although they had been denying the connection between fossil fuels and global warming for many years. This announcement came shortly after.

Furthermore, COP27 saw record-breaking attendance for fossil lobbyists. These developments set the stage for a greater spread in disinformation at next year’s climate conference and around other climate policy moments, states the report.

The research indicates that climate misinformation is increasing instead of disappearing. Seiber of Friends of the Earth US noted that Twitter’s search engine was displaying #ClimateScam as a top result without any evidence to back it up during COP. Governments and companies must be held accountable in order to protect the dialogue on the climate crisis. Twitter should explain how this trend of denying climate change came to be.

CAAD coalition members were present in Sharm el-Sheikh for the conference, prompting world leaders to act on climate disinformation. Jake Dubbins, co-chair of Conscious Advertising Network, stated that COP27 was the first event where countries discussed the issue. He mentioned that leaders from Germany to Saint Lucia all shared concerns about the misinformation war. Dubbins concluded that if the climate crisis is not taken seriously, vital climate action will be delayed to a point of no return.

CAAD is urging the US government, EU, UN, IPCC and Big Tech firms to recognize the danger of climate-related misinformation, and to promptly act to make data access and transparency more efficient, to prohibit paid advertising that advances fossil fuel interests, to enforce regulations against those who circulate false information on their platforms, and to adopt a single, encompassing definition of climate-related disinformation.

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue was the coordinating partner while ACT Climate Labs, CASM Technology, Climate Nexus, Code for Africa, Conscious Advertising Network (CAN), DeSmog, Dewey Square Group, E3G, Friends of the Earth US (FoE), Graphika, Media Matters for America, Purpose Asia Pacific, Purpose Climate Labs, Roots – Greenpeace, Union of Concerned Scientists, and the University of Exeter’s SEDA Lab served as contributing partners in the report.

Mayank Tewari

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