You can read the whole report below this article or download the report here.

Greenpeace Netherlands commissioned DeSmog to conduct an analysis of over 3034 adverts and promotions on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube from six selected fossil fuel companies for an investigation that aimed to understand the volume, and severity of greenwashing across Europe. These companies include Shell, Total Energies, Preem, Eni, Repsol and Fortum. From this initial analysis we can confidently say that all the companies in the dataset are greenwashing as their advertisements and promotions do not accurately reflect their business activities — either through an overemphasis on their ‘green’ activities, or an under-emphasis on their fossil fuel activities.

Key findings

  • The average percentage of greenwashing adverts (greenwash = climate friendly + false solutions) totalled at 63%, almost two thirds.
  • Half of the companies analysed dedicated 81% of the advertisements assessed to greenwashes. 
  • The average percentage of ‘green’ climate friendly adverts amongst all companies is 50% of all adverts. 
  • The worst greenwashers were Shell, Fortum and Preem who dedicated 81% of the advertisements reviewed (from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube) to greenwashes between December 2019 when the European Green Deal was announced and April 2021. 

The gap between what these companies say and do is huge. To take the example of two of the worst greenwashers, we can see just how stark these disparities can be: 

  • Shell invests 80% in oil and gas, meanwhile 81% of their advertisements were greenwashes. Specifically, 60% of their promotions were promoting clean energy alternatives, however only 10-15% of their actual investments are in renewables.
  • Preem has stated that less renewables make up only 2% of their fuel production, yet 81% of their advertisements present their company, and their fuel production as climate friendly.

Delay, distract, and deflect 

This investigation, conducted by Desmog demonstrates how fossil fuel companies across Europe have used their advertisements in order to delay, distract, and deflect attention away from their business models which are largely invested in fossil fuels. Greenpeace commissioned this research to cover a range of companies, big and small, including one utility company to demonstrate the scope of this problem as well as indicating key trends. Desmog’s evidence demonstrates why we cannot trust fossil fuel companies to stop greenwashing whilst they continue to invest in fossil fuels, and why fossil fuel industries must be banned from advertising and sponsoring in order for urgent action to be taken to rapidly phase out fossil fuels.

Ban fossil fuel advertisements and sponsorships

So why do we allow fossil fuel companies to greenwash their dangerous business models through advertisements and sponsorships? Why do we allow companies to manipulate people into thinking that they are taking the climate emergency seriously when many fossil fuel companies are still looking for new opportunities to extract fossil fuels?  Why do we allow companies to misrepresent false solutions that are often unsafe or untested as climate friendly? 

The answer is simple, we need the European Commission to legally ban fossil fuel industries advertising and sponsorships to stop their dangerous propaganda which delays the rapid fossil fuel phase out we need. The EU has already introduced a directive banning cross border tobacco advertising and sponsorships in response to a public health crisis. Now that we are deep into a climate emergency and we know that fossil fuels are responsible for 89% of global CO2 emissions, it’s time for a law banning fossil advertising for the health of people and the planet.

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