Did you know that your refrigerator contains super greenhouse gases? These gases – called HFC or F-gas refrigerants– are a growing piece of the global warming problem. They are 1400 times more powerful at warming the climate than carbon dioxide and Greenpeace has been working to eliminate them ever since they were introduced in the early 1990s. And we did eliminate them in Europe, Asia, and South America.
It looks like we could finally see a major breakthrough on this front in the U.S..
Help make sure this happens!
Recently, EPA proposed a new rule that would allow climate-friendly hydrocarbon refrigerants in the U.S. Until now hydrocarbons have been illegal here because of an outdated set of EPA regulations that restrict the types of refrigerants that can be used.
The U.S. is actually trailing most of the rest of the world in refrigeration technology. Back in 1993 Greenpeace developed a hydrocarbon refrigerator – called GreenFreeze – and so far Europe, Asia and many other regions have transitioned to this technology. Not only is it free of super-greenhouse gases, but the hydrocarbons are actually more efficient coolants, and can reduce the amount of energy needed to run the refrigerator as well.
Today 40% of global refrigerator production is GreenFreeze, and nearly 400 million units have sold in total worldwide – but none in the U.S.
With EPA’s new rule, manufacturers could soon be allowed to sell GreenFreeze in the U.S. Some companies have already expressed their interest. This means that when it comes time to buy your next refrigerator, you could buy one that is climate-friendly and possibly more efficient too.
But the rule is so far just a proposal, and it took years for EPA to even get this far. And there are other cooling sectors – like air conditioning – that have similar climate-friendly options that EPA hasn’t addressed yet.
We need to encourage EPA to take the next steps to finalize this rule ASAP and urge them to also consider similar action in other cooling sectors soon.
EPA is accepting public comments on the rule until July 9th, so act now to let them know that you want to be able to buy GreenFreeze in the U.S!
Though shell has been punished twice in recent years for greenwashing in the British media (here and here), the company seems to have little concern about greenwashing in American media. Check out the ad it has been running frequently in all the most influential papers and magazines, including the Economist and Washington Post on a regular basis.
You would think that Shell would learn from mistakes in the past. Last year, Shell was told to stop using the ad to the right in the UK. The text says:
“… we need to find new ways of managing carbon emissions to limit climate change. Continued investment in technology is one of the key ways we are able to address this challenge, and continue to secure a profitable and sustainable future.
“The challenge of the 21st century is to meet the growing need for energy in ways that are not only profitable but sustainable… In Canada we’re harnessing our global network of technical and financial expertise to unlock the potential of the vast Canadian oil sands deposit. In the USA we’re helping to build what will be the nation’s largest refinery.”
The UK Advertising Standards Authority disapproved of the ad:
“We noted that the large scale of the oil sands developments had considerable social and environmental impacts, including those on water conservation, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), land disturbance and waste management.
“Because we had not seen data that showed how Shell was effectively managing carbon emissions from its oil sands projects in order to limit climate change, we concluded that on this point the ad was misleading.”
The ASA concluded that the ad must not appear again in its current form.
But despite this lesson, Shell apparently has no qualms about making similar misleading claims in the US, for example the “less CO2” claim depicted above.
Shell also has no problem contributing funding to a large-scale anti-climate legislation campaign being run by the American Petroleum Institute. That campaign was not only caught astroturfing, but also uses scare tactics and misleading, biased information to make the public and policy makers believe that climate legislation would kill jobs or drastically rise gas prices. For example, the API ad below is featured in many of the same media outlets as Shell greenwash ads.
On the eve of the Copenhagen climate summit, we have some positive news from a US company: today The Coca-Cola Company announced that it will stop using HFCs in their coolers and vending machines.
For those that aren’t familiar with HFCs, they are the worst greenhouse gases you’ve never heard of. They’re used in refrigerators and air conditioners, and the most common one is 1,430 times more powerful at warming the climate than CO2.
Greenpeace has been encouraging companies to move to climate-friendly natural alternatives, like hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide – and Coca-Cola has been listening.
Coca-Cola’s transition to HFC-free refrigeration will reduce the equipment’s direct greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 99 percent. The company and its bottling partners have approximately 10 million coolers and vending machines in place today around the world, and they are responsible for the largest part of Coca-Cola’s total climate impact. As a result of today’s commitment, they’ll reduce emissions by more than 50 million metric tons over the life of the equipment – the same as taking more than 11 million cars off the road for a year.
In addition, since Coca-Cola is such a large global company, its demand for HFC-free technologies will help to accelerate the transition to this type of equipment throughout industry, reducing costs through economies of scale.
This is especially good news as more and more scientific research emphasizes the enormous threat of HFCs. New research by NASA and Purdue shows that HFCs and other “F” gases that contain fluorine are the most effective warming agents out there. And, a recent report by the National Academy of sciences shows that HFCs will be responsible for 28-45% of carbon emissions by 2050 if society reduces carbon dioxide while leaving HFCs unchecked.
Coca-Cola’s announcement demonstrates that phasing out HFCs is a tangible and near-term action that can be taken to protect the climate. Let’s hope other companies – and participants in Copenhagen – are listening.
As you might have noticed, Newsweek ran a special issue this week with the cover story, “The Greenest Big Companies in America.” The feature ranks the S&P 500 according to each company’s environmental impact, policies and reputation. Dirt Diggers Digest points out that the list “has more validity than the usual exercises of this sort, which tend to take much of corporate greenwash at face value.” But also notes “the magazine could have easily turned the list upside down and headlined its feature ‘The Biggest Environmental Culprits of Corporate America’.”
The web version of the Newsweek issue has a nice sidebar dedicated specifically to greenwash, which includes these snipits:
“Many corporations … don’t do much of anything to change the way they do business, but make a big show of their dedication to Mother Earth. It’s usually easy to spot these companies: They make their customers do the work, and then take the credit. In the name of saving the planet, my cable TV operator keeps asking for permission to stop sending paper statements in the mail each month. Instead, I’m supposed to check my statement online. The real reason, of course, is that doing so would save them paper, printing and postage. This is a perfectly legitimate reason for them to want me to switch. But when they pretend that it’s all about the environment, it just makes me hate my cable company even more than I already do. Despite this, I would still consider switching to online statements if they would agree to use the money they save to hire cable TV repairmen who know how to repair cable TV.”
“Sometimes a good ad campaign does a better job of enhancing a company’s green reputation than going through the expense and hassle of adopting actual environmentally sound practices. Billboards in Washington implore me to join the cause. “I will unplug stuff more,” reads one. Another says, “I will at least consider buying a hybrid.” These ads are the work of Chevron, the giant oil company, whose “Will You Join Us?” ads try to convince people that saving the planet is at the top of their list. You might think that if Chevron was really worried about problems like global warming, they would spend some of those p.r. dollars lobbying Congress to adopt stricter gas mileage requirements for automobiles. They do not do this. Instead, I’m apparently supposed to praise them as environmental heroes because they tell me to unplug my toaster and think about getting a Prius. Yet ad campaigns like these work. Chevron lands at No. 371 out of 500 companies on Newsweek’s green rankings.”
Read the full article and sidebar.
This week, Planet Green’s Focus Earth program airs an episode on greenwash. In the episode Bob Woodruff interviews environmental and corporate watchdog expert Kenny Bruno, author of Greenwash and Corporate Environmentalism, and myself from Greenpeace, to answer the question: are corporate green efforts for show only, or can they actually make amends for decades of un-sustainable, even downright harmful, business choices? Woodfuff also gets up close with leaders from Royal Dutch Shell, Ford Motor Company and Duke Energy to examine their environmental statements and actions.
Watch clips from the show and find airtimes here.
A new Guardian arcticle today confirms what we wrote back in may: Exxon is still secretly funding global warming junk scientists.
According to the Guardian report:
Records show ExxonMobil gave hundreds of thousands of pounds to lobby groups that have published ‘misleading and inaccurate information’ about climate change. These include the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) in Dallas, Texas, which received $75,000 (£45,500), and the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC, which received $50,000.
According to Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, at the London School of Economics, both the NCPA and the Heritage Foundation have published “misleading and inaccurate information about climate change.”
On its website, the NCPA says: “NCPA scholars believe that while the causes and consequences of the earth’s current warming trend is [sic] still unknown, the cost of actions to substantially reduce CO2 emissions would be quite high and result in economic decline, accelerated environmental destruction, and do little or nothing to prevent global warming regardless of its cause.”
The Heritage Foundation published a “web memo” in December that said: “Growing scientific evidence casts doubt on whether global warming constitutes a threat, including the fact that 2008 is about to go into the books as a cooler year than 2007″. Scientists, including those at the UK Met Office say that the apparent cooling is down to natural changes and does not alter the long-term warming trend.
Ward said, “ExxonMobil has been briefing journalists for three years that they were going to stop funding these groups. The reality is that they are still doing it. If the world’s largest oil company wants to fund climate change denial then it should be upfront about it, and not tell people it has stopped.”
We’ve been skeptical of BP’s green marketing claims all along, but reports out of London today confirm that BP’s new motto should be “Back to Petroleum”.
The Guardian reports:
BP has shut down its alternative energy headquarters in London, accepted the resignation of its clean energy boss and imposed budget cuts…
….BP Alternative Energy was given its own headquarters in County Hall opposite the Houses of Parliament two years ago and its managing director, Vivienne Cox, oversaw a small division of 80 staff concentrating on wind and solar power. But [Cox] – BP’s most senior female executive, who previously ran renewables as part of a larger gas and power division now dismantled by Hayward – is standing down tomorrow.
This comes alongside huge cuts in the alternative energy budget – from $1.4bn (£850m) last year to between $500m and $1bn this year, although spending is still roughly in line with original plans to invest $8bn by 2015.
Earlier this year the company shut down solar operations in the US and Spain.
Meanwhile, BP is still moving into more destructive oil operations, such as Canada’s tar sands.
Yesterday, Climate Progress called out the New York Times for running a front page ExxonMobil advertisement.
As Climate Progress points out:
“Needless to say — or, rather, in this case, needful to say — while today’s car has lower emissions of urban air pollutants thanks to government regulation, today’s car has, if anything, higher emissions of greenhouse gases, which threaten the health and well-being of the next 50 generations. And needful to say, ExxonMobil has done more than just about any other company to undermine efforts to achieve the greenhouse gas regulations that could lower those emissions.”
details the millions of dollars that the company has shoveled to fund the disinformation campaigns of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation, all of which continue to advance unfactual anti-scientific attacks as I have detailed recently (see posts on Heritage and CEI and AEI). Chris Mooney wrote an excellent piece on ExxonMobil’s two-decade anti-scientific campaign. A 2007 Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report looked at ExxonMobil’s tobacco industry-like tactics in pushing global warming denial (see “Today We Have a Planet That’s Smoking!”). So it is especially egregious that the New York Times would take money to publish this disinformation on their front page.”
Please email the NYT at firstname.lastname@example.org about this egregious ad and/or email its public editor at email@example.com to explain you are “concerned about the paper’s journalistic integrity.”
We all remember BP’s many attempts to look like a green company – for example changing its name from “British Petroleum” to “Beyond Petroleum”, and running numerous greenwash ads like the one to the right. But it looks like BP may finally be officially moving away from its “green” pledge.
The company’s new CEO recently announced that its new first priority will be safety.
As the BBC reports:
Greenpeace said the oil giant had a lot to gain by dropping its promise to be green.
Charlie Kronick, Greenpeace’s senior climate change adviser, suggested that the pledge was the only thing holding it back from making further cuts to its green credentials.
“Now that BP is blissfully released from its pledge to invest in clean energy, it has a carte blanche to sell off its unprofitable green energy arm,” he told the BBC.
“It can get back to doing what it does best: being a 100% fossil fuels train wreck,” Mr Kronick added.
“This is classic smoke and mirrors.”
It’s no surprise really, BP has been investing in dirty tar sands and cutting investments in renewables for a long time. Let’s just hope that with the new CEO comes a new advertising policy, one that doesn’t include spending a fortune on greenwash.
In response to the 60 Minutes report about contamination of the Amazon rain forest in Ecuador, Chevron apparently hired its own reporter to create its own version of the report. According to the New York Times:
Both videos start with a correspondent appearing on camera and calling it a “bitter” dispute. But from there, they diverge. The “60 Minutes” report visits the rain forest, talks to the Ecuadorean judge and interviews a Chevron manager. The Chevron video interviews the same Chevron manager, as well as five professors who are consultants to the oil company, but none of the plaintiffs.
The Chevron video never directly claims to be journalism. But a casual viewer could be swayed by the description — “Gene Randall reporting” — and the journalistic devices used, including file footage of the rain forest and over-the-shoulder interviews with experts. Chevron declined to answer questions about the video.
Chevron also bought Google ads so that its own website about the lawsuit, which includes the video, appear as the top link when anyone googles "Chevron in Ecuador".
It’s unclear how much Chevron spent on the video and website, but it seems that money would have been better spent actually cleaning up oil wells in Ecuador. Surely that would have done more to improve Chevron’s image than this bit of greenwash.