Why Some of Your Favorite Podcasts Are Full of Oil Company Ads | Environment

If you regularly listen to the New York Times The Daily podcast, you would have heard an announcement for ExxonMobil’s carbon capture investments more than once in November.

The announcement – which coincided with the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow – told listeners carbon capture technology could remove more than 90% of CO2 emissions from “carbon intensive industries” and that the company was working to “deploy this technology on a large scale.” It gave the impression of an oil company tackling the climate crisis with technology that could solve it – and quickly.

Similar ads ran on NPR podcasts, including Invisibilia and Up First. The American Petroleum Institute also ran ads in podcasts, most notably on Vox’s Ezra Klein Show (Klein has since gone to The New York Times), noting that it “produces more oil and gas while reducing emissions. “.

The fossil fuel industry’s sudden interest in podcasts coincides with its recent adoption of social media and newsletter advertising and may well be driven in part by a key difference in the regulation of these ‘new media’. , Regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), compared to traditional print, television and radio media, which are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

While the FCC actively regulates advertising, the FTC operates differently. It will usually not investigate anything until a complaint is made and even then an investigation is not guaranteed. The FTC has been running “green guides” for environmental marketing claims for more than 30 years, but the first ever complaint against an oil company for greenwashing came in 2021 against Chevron. The action is still ongoing.

The challenge with the FTC guidelines, including green guides, is that they tend to be product-based and specific: your product is either made with recycled materials, or you take back and recycle the packaging, or you don’t. don’t. All of this leaves podcast and newsletter editors and social media platforms to develop their own guidelines and fact-checking processes.

This is made more difficult by the industry’s advertising strategy – oil companies hardly ever advertise their products, opting instead to advertise ideas, especially the idea that they work hard to cope with the climate crisis.

ExxonMobil’s ad in The Daily, for example, emphasizes its work to scale up carbon capture as a climate solution. Yet the company currently captures less than 1% of its emissions, according to a report by activist hedge fund Engine No 1, and uses some of the captured CO.2 to extract more fossil fuels through a process called enhanced oil recovery.

The ad’s statement that carbon capture can eliminate 90% of emissions also carries important caveats. The figure is a benchmark target for carbon capture projects and refers to emissions captured at a single industrial site rather than all industrial emissions. According to the International Energy Agency, global carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects can currently capture around 0.1% of annual global emissions.

“ExxonMobil has long recognized that climate change is real and poses serious risks,” said ExxonMobil spokesperson Todd Spitler. He said figures from the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions show that “CSC can capture more than 90% of emissions from power plants and industrial facilities ”.

He added that ExxonMobil captured more than 120 million tonnes of CO2 in total, which he said accounted for 40% of all carbon captured globally since 1970. According to the company’s April 2021 report, the Exxon total CO2 2020 emissions alone from direct operations and its supply chain were over 650 million tonnes.

“All advertising must meet our advertising acceptability guidelines,” New York Times spokesperson Nicole Taylor said. “This prohibits advertising that is intentionally misleading, deceptive or containing false information. Ads submitted to the New York Times are reviewed by an ad standards team and subject to fact-checking. “

Yet Exxon’s misleading carbon capture claims have passed that filter. Taylor did not say whether the Exxon announcement went through the company’s fact-checking process, just that the announcements “are subject” to a fact-check. So, either the ad was successful or it wasn’t checked out in the first place.

NPR also says it has processes in place to control digital ads. “The digital guidelines were developed to protect the non-commercial mind of NPR with additional flexibility on language beyond the strict limits imposed by the FCC for the recognition of broadcast sponsors,” said a spokesperson for NPR. , Isabel Lara.

It’s no surprise that Exxon’s announcement passed media company filters, said John Cook, a researcher at the Climate Change Communication Research Hub at Monash University, Australia, and Facebook’s disinformation adviser. climate. This is because he deploys a tactic often used by oil companies called “hesitation,” he said, the use of truthful statements to convey a misleading impression.

“It takes some basic knowledge to spot it, so it’s difficult,” Cook said. “They can run an ad with 100% accurate statements. Exxon invests in algae – it’s 100% true – so there is a lot they can do to make it look like they’re eco-friendly without making it look like they’re spending more on advertising than on algae technology. So it’s very difficult for fact checkers or social media guidelines to figure this out because companies can say, “What? It is all true.

Unless the New York Times advertising team has a knowledgeable climate expert who reviews Exxon’s ads, a deceptive ad is unlikely to be rejected. “The problem with self-regulation is that if it’s against the financial interests of a publisher or a platform to impose restrictions, they’re less likely to do it,” Cook said.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that a ban on fossil fuel ads is the only way to get greenwashing under control, Cook said. “I would probably go for the solution to be more content-based than source-based,” he said. “But also if the source has a history of disinformation, that should come with penalties.”

The problem is to catch the problem first, because greenwashing does not fit into the usual mold. “Their greenwashing will not be flagged as disinformation in the first place,” Cook said. “So what’s in place now to identify misinformation in advertisements is not really a framework for identifying greenwashing. “

Source link

Previous Comment: Street art is gaining popularity and recognition
Next Tourists bask on battlefield as drug gangs fight over Mexican resort | Mexico