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Some of the world’s top PR companieshave for the first time publicly ruled out working with climate change deniers, marking a fundamental shift in the multi-billion dollar industry that has grown up around theissue of global warming.

Public relations firms have played a critical role over the years in framing the debate on climate change and its solutions –as well as the extensive disinformation campaigns launched to block those initiatives. Now a number of the top 25 global PR firms have told the Guardian they will not represent clients who deny man-made climate change, or take campaigns seeking to block regulations limiting carbon pollution. Companies include WPP, Waggener Edstrom (WE) Worldwide, Weber Shandwick, Text100, and Finn Partners.

“We would not knowingly partner with a client who denies the existence of climate change,”said Rhian Rotz, spokesman for WE. The UK-based WPP, the world’s largest advertising firm by revenue and parent company of Burson Marsteller and Oglivy Public Relations, said taking on a client or campaign disputing climate change would violate company guidelines.

The PR firms were responding to surveys conducted independently by the Guardian and the Climate Investigations Centre, a Washington-based group that conducts research on climate disinformation campaigns. This could have a knock-on effect on the advertising and lobbying campaigns targeting Barack Obama’s regulations limiting carbon emissions from power plants, and the international negotiations for a climate change treaty, now entering a critical phase.

The Climate Investigations Centre sent out surveys in April to the world’s top 25 firmsasking them to go on the record about their views on climate change.

The short survey asked:

            •          Does your company acknowledge thethreat and challenge of climate change as companies like Walmart, CocaCola, Apple, Google, AIG, Swiss Re, NRG, Unilever and others have done?

            •          Does your company have anyinternal carbon accounting policies or energy use reduction targets? Have you taken actions to reduce your “carbon footprint”?

            •          Does your company have an internal Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy regarding climate change or the environment generally?

            •          Has your agency advised any client corporations on communications around CSR programmes with a specific climate change focus, or on other climate change related public relations efforts?

The Guardian followed up by asking firms if they would take on clients that deny the existence of man-made climate change or campaigns seeking to block regulations dealing with climate change.


The gLAWcal Team

POREEN project

Monday, 4 August 2014

(Source: The August)