Stopping greenwashing by engaging with the advertising industry

Generous Films
Generous Films
DKK 2,041,545
Programme Area
Sustainable Behaviour

Climate misinformation and misleading greenwashing campaigns present a major obstacle for ambitious climate action, and PR and advertising agencies are known as enablers of the fossil fuels industry’s efforts to mislead the public. According to a new report, over 60 percent of oil and gas ads (from BP, Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and TotalEnergies) contain at least one misleading green claim, while just 12 percent of the industry’s capital expenditures are devoted to low carbon technologies. Activist campaigns, climate litigation, and congressional hearings have helped shed light on this over the last year, but the largest PR and ad agencies and their leadership have not yet taken meaningful action.

The overall goal of this work is to enable and encourage the advertising industry to align their standards and practices on greenwashing with the latest scientific and legal guidelines, rather than the looser, subjective standards most agencies currently use. This work is done in close collaboration with other KR Foundation grantees such as The Climate Social Science Network and The Climate Litigation Lab.

Generous Films
The organization Generous Films, which is led by former Edelman employee Christine Arena, is working to address this problem from two different angles. One approach is to push for top-down change across the PR and advertising industry, e.g., working with the Institute for Advertising Ethics to host the industry's first public discussions on the risks of greenwashing, to integrate members of the climate accountability community into the conversation, and to create social science-based guidelines and standards for greenwashing. Another part of Generous Films' work entails directly engaging the top PR and advertising industry leaders to make them take a more active role in preventing and counteracting greenwashing campaigns.