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BP Event Disrupted After Oil Giant’s Profits Double: Report Uncovers Widespread ‘Greenwashing’

BP has reported record annual profits – while also scaling back plans to reduce the amount of oil and gas it produces by the end of the decade

Photo: Fossil Free London
Fossil Free London has been challenging senior fossil fuel leaders at internal events. Chief Economist, Spencer Dale Photo: Fossil Free London

BP Event Disrupted After Oil Giant’s Profits DoubleReport Uncovers Widespread ‘Greenwashing’

Climate change activists protest against BP as it scales back plans to reduce the amount of oil and gas it produces by the end of the decade

Six campaigners from grassroots climate group Fossil Free London have disrupted an event ‘for energy young professionals’ with energy giant BP’s after the British firm announced its profits had doubled to £23 billion ($28 billion) last year in the midst of a climate and energy crisis.

The event on Wednesday was held at Deloitte’s London office to discuss BP’s recently published ‘World Energy Outlook’, and organised by the World Petroleum Council’s young professionals committee.

During the event, activists who had booked tickets stood up from their chairs to argue oil and gas expansion is “indefensible”. After around five minutes challenging Chief Economist, Spencer Dale, they were removed by security and told not to film. Mr Dale did not engage during the disruption.

Following the event, Mr Dale was then challenged again by two young campaigners, who questioned how BP could justify cutting its investments in renewables while still recording profits. Mr Dale only briefly engaged with the young people, offering to speak separately, but then declined to give his card or email. 

The company also recently walked back its 2030 emissions reduction target.  Previously, it had said that its oil and gas production emissions would fall by 35-40% by 2030. Now, BP anticipates they will fall by just 20-30% (compared with 2019 levels). 

In the fast half of 2022, BP invested just 2.5% of its profits in renewables. It invested 10 times more in new oil and gas projects. 

In 2021, the IEA stated that there could be no new oil and gas projects if we are to meet the targets set out in the Paris Agreement and keep within 1.5° warming. Activists are demanding no new oil and gas, and a swift transition to renewable energy. 

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During the disruption, one activist said: “You’ve known full well, and you have for years, that you are destroying the chance at a liveable future. There are people who can’t come into rooms like this, people on the frontlines of the climate crisis, in Tangguh in West Papua where you operate, in Basra in Iraq where you operate, who are suffering already, deadly, deadly impacts because of your operations. How can you keep expanding when the science says “no new oil and gas”?’

Another activist added: ‘’We disrupted Spencer Dale talking today because BP, a company that he works for and represents, is driving the climate crisis which is devastating communities across the world.

“As they celebrated record profits they are also cutting back on their already pathetic climate targets and are planning to spend $30 million a day on oil and gas expansion. This totally goes completely against the science that says there can be no new expansion of oil and gas if we are to avoid breaching 1.5 degrees. This is an emergency and BP is driving it. And we need to stop that.”

‘Greenwashing’ Claims

The action comes as a report argues that Big Tech platforms like Meta and Twitter are failing to tackle so-called greenwashing across their online platforms – and are profiting from the promotion of climate “dis- and misinformation”.

The report, from campaign groups Stop Funding Heat and Global Witness, claims that greenwashing is a growing form of climate misinformation, where businesses “falsely publicise efforts as supportive of climate goals that in fact contribute to climate warming or contravene the scientific consensus on mitigation or adaptation.” 

Released alongside the report, new data from Global Witness shows that the British fossil fuel company BP more than doubled its spending on “greenwashing advertisements” on Facebook and Instagram in the first seven months of 2022 alone compared to the previous year. 

Last year saw the introduction of the ‘Green Claims Code’ by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which seeks to crack down on greenwashing activity to protect consumers. Climate activists say many of the ads are in breach of the code.

Over the period, Global Witness’ data shows that Shell continued to run ads on Instagram and Facebook that “greenwash its image” and bypassed the platform’s labelling requirements for political content.

Big Tech platforms allegedly have no policies in place to address greenwashing, Stop Funding Heat puts forward a range of recommendations in its report, which include: 

Titled ‘Cashing in on Climate Delay: Big Tech’s Role in Greenwashing the Fossil Fuel Industry’, the report from Stop Funding Heat analyses more than 150 academic studies, NGO reports, and journalistic investigations. It warns that governments, regulators and the general public, may be overlooking the dangers of frequent and pervasive greenwashing from polluting companies, while Big Tech companies continue to profit from it. 

Sean Buchan, campaign manager at Stop Funding Heat, and author of the report said: “With a growing international movement to halt greenwashing and prevent the promotion of climate misinformation, these Big Tech platforms are on borrowed time. We are already seeing some regulators begin to crack down on greenwashing from large polluters, while a number of cities and towns are introducing bans on the advertising of climate-wrecking products.

He added: “Big Tech needs to get its house in order and tackle greenwashing and climate misinformation instead of continuing to profit from it amid a climate crisis.” 

BP did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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