Uncover the whole truth.

It’s never been more urgent for companies everywhere to be more sustainable.

Yet the ‘green’ advertising of those companies most responsible for climate change and environmental damage is misleading the public about their sustainability.

To have an even chance of keeping global warming below catastrophic levels, we need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to zero by mid-century. And by 2030, global emissions need to be half what they were in 2010.

Too few fossil fuel companies are facing up to this reality. Many companies are responding to the climate crisis with  ‘green’ marketing, while their core business remains fossil fuels. Their adverts are using greenwashing to distract the public from the harm their products cause to people and planet.

Following our world-first complaint against BP’s advertising, we've investigated some of the world's biggest fossil fuel companies and uncovered the truth. Our Greenwashing Files highlight how advertising doesn’t always match up to reality.

ClientEarth worked with environmental investigators DeSmog to conduct the following analysis:

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The problem with greenwashing

Science tells us that if we burn the fossil fuel reserves that have already been found, odds are we are unlikely to keep warming below 1.5°C – the world’s aim under the Paris climate agreement. Studies show there are plans to produce 120% more fossil fuels by 2030 than is consistent with staying under this threshold. We simply cannot burn all the world’s stock of coal, oil and gas and hope to avoid climate disaster.

Companies that are still pushing new fossil fuel exploration and projects cannot justify calling themselves 'sustainable' and cannot claim to be changing in line with society’s aims under the Paris Agreement goals.

Yet companies’ marketing campaigns create the impression they are at the forefront of a rapid transitioning to low-carbon energy. And they are increasingly using social media to target younger audiences, including paying social media ‘influencers’. Some companies are doing more to grow low-carbon energy than others. But company marketing rarely reflects the full picture of their business strategy and investments.

There may seem to be nothing wrong with companies highlighting ‘green’ projects. But these ads are a problem where they create a misleading impression of their overall business and its environmental harms. And the danger is that this obstructs the world’s efforts to move away from fossil fuels – thus endangering human rights across the world. Marketing campaigns can mislead the public on the true environmental cost of continuing to pump and use fossil fuels in the climate emergency. Unfortunately, if fossil fuel companies protect their business models in this way, then the science is clear: our planet and our societies face catastrophic consequences.

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