COP28: Fossil fuel firms are spending millions of dollars for the promotion of carbon capture and storage on social media as a “silver bullet” solution to climate change, and hence, are manipulating the narrative around climate change solutions, according to a new analysis published during COP28.
The analysis has been performed by Climate Action Against Disinformation, a global coalition of more than 50 organisations working to identify, analyse, and counter climate disinformation worldwide.
Carbon capture and storage
According to the British Geological Survey, carbon capture and storage is the process of capturing carbon dioxide at emission sources, transporting the carbon dioxide, and then storing or burying it in a suitable deep, underground location. In other words, carbon capture and storage removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere directly or indirectly.
How fossil fuel firms are performing online promotion of carbon capture and storage
Fossil fuel firms are targeting social media platforms with paid advertisements. For instance, in order to promote carbon capture and storage and its renewable gasoline blend, which is fuel produced from biomass sources through a variety of biological, thermal and chemical processes, Chevron, an American multinational energy company, spent $1.8 million on TikTok advertisements, the analysis found.
As many as 34 sponsored videos got 188 million views.
One can often find paid-for content from fossil fuel firms at the top of Google searches for “carbon capture”. This is a form of greenwashing because it makes people believe that the firms are trying to protect the environment.
When one searches for carbon capture on Google, greenwashing advertisements from Chevron, Saudi Aramco, and BP, a British multinational oil and gas company, appear at the top, ahead of reputable or scientific sources on carbon capture.
Fossil fuel firms are also using deceptive messaging as they claim that carbon capture and storage can allow them to continue operating without reducing their emissions.
Canadian multinational pipeline and energy company Enbridge is advertising on YouTube, the analysis said.
Content on Meta supporting carbon capture and storage mostly comes from politicians announcing new projects, or self-promotion by the industry.
Campaigns around carbon capture and storage were mainly localised in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, data on Meta’s Ad Library has shown, the report said.
Chinese oil and gas enterprise Sinopec and the Saudi government promoted carbon capture and storage through individual advertisements in relation to COP28, the report said.
Since several carbon capture and storage-related advertisements violate Meta’s advertisement standards, and run without appropriate disclaimers, they have been removed.
How greenwashing through paid online promotion of carbon capture and storage is harmful
Fossil fuel firms are supporting climate denial through such greenwashing tactics such as the promotion of carbon capture and storage as a solution to climate change, despite the fact that the technology is in its early stages of development, and has not been proven to be scalable or cost-effective.
Carbon capture and storage can help certain sectors, but the technique is used to weaken net-zero targets, and justify investments in oil, fossil gas, and other polluting fuels.
Framing carbon capture and storage as a climate solution can hinder efforts to combat climate change.