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Brand Purpose Brand Strategy Disinformation

IPG, Omnicom, Sky and Patagonia call on Cop27 to tackle climate disinformation


By Ellen Ormesher, Senior Reporter

November 15, 2022 | 5 min read

Advertising industry leaders and brands including IPG, Omnicom, Sky and Patagonia have signed an open letter to delegates of Cop27, demanding they develop a clear plan for action against climate misinformation and disinformation.

Fossil fuels

Large numbers of respondents believe that fossil gas is a climate-friendly energy source / Image via Climate Visuals

It follows a survey commissioned by Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD) and the Conscious Advertising Network (CAN) that sought to understand how common false climate beliefs are in different regions of the globe and their relation to media and social media consumption.

Cop27 is currently taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, as delegates and stakeholders come together to attempt to find concrete solutions to the global climate emergency.

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What is climate disinformation?

Climate disinformation and misinformation refers to deceptive or misleading content that:

  • Undermines the existence or impacts of climate change, the unequivocal human influence on climate change and the need for corresponding urgent action according to the IPCC scientific consensus and in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement;

  • Misrepresents scientific data, including by omission or cherry-picking, in order to erode trust in climate science, climate-focused institutions, experts and solutions; or

  • Falsely publicizes efforts as supportive of climate goals that in fact contribute to climate warming or contravene the scientific consensus on mitigation or adaptation.

What does the open letter demand?

The open letter calls for the adoption of a universal definition for climate disinformation and misinformation to allow for international cooperation in tackling it.

It has been co-signed by major brands including Patagonia, SSE, Sky, Virgin Media O2 and Ben & Jerry’s; NGOs, including Friends of the Earth and WWF; and major holding companies and agencies Havas Media, Omnicom, Dentsu and VCCP.

What did the survey find?

Collected by YouGov, the study was conducted across Australia, Brazil, Germany, India, the UK and the US. It found there is a significant gap between public perception and the science on issues as basic as whether climate change exists or whether it is mainly caused by humans.

Large numbers of respondents believe that fossil gas is a climate-friendly energy source, contrary to what climate science shows us about its damaging impacts on the climate. (34% of Australians, 40% of Brazilians, 25% of Germans, 57% of Indians and 39% of US citizens believe that gas is a climate-friendly energy source. Only 14% of the population in the UK believes in this example of disinformation.)

When the data is combined, between 55% and 85% of the populations surveyed believe at least one of the climate change misinformation statements included in the questionnaire, with the highest share in India and the lowest in the UK.

CAN and CAAD conclude it is clear that climate disinformation is not an isolated issue and the media has a clear role in its spread. As the study revealed, across regions, participants who consumed news five days or more per week were more likely to believe in the misinformation statements compared to those who didn’t consume news. This suggests that reporting from some news outlets regularly includes misinformation narratives, which are adversely influencing their readers’ or viewers’ opinions.

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