ClientEarth has lodged a complaint against BP over the oil giant’s allegedly “misleading” consumers about its focus on low carbon energy and climate change in its advertising campaign.
They said the complaint to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) features a dossier of more than 100 pages of “evidence” examining BP’s advertising and the impression it creates for ordinary consumers.
The environmental lawyers are taking issue with the potentially “misleading impression” BP is giving by focusing on its renewable energy investments, despite oil and gas making up a big proportion of its business.
The company’s adverts are shown across billboards, newspapers and television in the UK, US and Europe as well as on social media and online.
The lawyers are backing up the complaint with a call for a ban on all fossil fuel advertising unless it comes with a tobacco-style health warning about the dangers to the planet and people.
They are also questioning the accuracy of BP’s statements around gas, which it describes as “cleaner burning”, as well as the company’s claim that gas currently plays only a backup role on electricity grids in support of rather than displacing renewable energy.
The lawyers allege BP’s adverts “do not tell the whole story” about global energy demand.
Climate Lawyer Sophie Marjanac said: “BP is spending millions on an advertising campaign to give the impression that it’s racing to renewables, that its gas is cleaner and that it is part of the climate solution.
“This is a smokescreen. While BP’s advertising focuses on clean energy, in reality, more than 96% of the company’s annual capital expenditure is on oil and gas. According to its own figures, BP is spending less than four pounds in every £100 on low carbon investments each year. The rest is fuelling the climate crisis.”
A spokesperson from BP said: “We have not seen this complaint but we strongly reject the suggestion that our advertising is misleading.
“BP has clearly said that the world is on an unsustainable path and must do more to reduce emissions. We support a rapid transition of the world’s energy system.
“BP is of course well-known as a major oil and gas producer. We are also committed to advancing a low carbon future. So one of the purposes of this advertising campaign is to let people know about some of the possibilities we see to do that, for example in wind, solar and electric vehicle charging, as well as in natural gas and advanced fuels.”