250 companies and executives are pushing UN and social media giants to tackle climate misinformation


Paris Agreement architect Laurence Tubiana, WWF, Sky, Virgin Media O2 and Ben & Jerrys are among 250+ organizations and leaders supporting a new call to fight climate disinformation, launched to coincide with COP26.

In addition to calling on social media CEOs, the letter urges the UN to play its part and develop a common international definition of climate disinformation.

The call to action goes through an open letter aimed at the UN, as well as leaders of social media networks including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit. Over 250 organizations and individuals signed the letter ahead of its launch today (November 9).

According to the letter, while there are “really encouraging signs” that some platforms are improving their approach to preventing and eliminating climate misinformation, like Google and Youtube, it remains a “threat” that could “detail key conferences.”

For the UN, the letter calls for a universal definition of climate disinformation to be worked out, in order to help develop meaningful international initiatives to tackle the problem. Opportunities for this definition have been missed, he says, in the original framework of the Paris Agreement and in recent reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The letter states: “COP26 is the perfect time to give policymakers momentum to recognize the threat of climate disinformation and, through global cooperation, oppose it. “

A definition of climate disinformation and disinformation is proposed, covering statements that “undermine” the existence or impacts of climate change and “unequivocal” human influence; distort scientific data in order to erode trust in climate science, and / or greenwash.

For social media companies, the letter urges business leaders to replicate the “robust policies” on disinformation related to Covid-19, developed over the past 18 months, for the climate. Policies should be based on a zero tolerance approach, covering advertisements and non-monetized posts, the letter said. Companies also need to be transparent about their fact-checking process and internal research into past cases of the spread of climate misinformation.

Instagram, Google, Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest, Reddit, and Facebook are all named in the letter. Last week, Stop Funding Heat released a report indicating that climate misinformation attracts between 818,000 and 1.36 million views on Facebook every day, despite the company’s claims to the contrary.

The companies signing the open letter are SSE, Sky, Virgin Media O2, British Gas, Ben & Jerry’s, Ecotricity, Toast Ale and Havas Media. Individual signatories include the architect of the Paris Agreement and CEO of the European Climate Foundation Laurence Tubiana, WWF’s Global Head of Climate and Energy Manuel Pulgar-Vidal and Founder-Director of the Forum for the Future Sir Jonathon Porritt.

There are also a multitude of over 100 supporting organizations, including the National Student Union, Global Witness, the World Land Trust, WWF International and Friends of the Earth.

“Ten toxic”

The open letter comes a week later a study Social media posts referring to articles based on climate denial, conducted by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), found that ten sites based in the United States, Korea and Russia were responsible for 70% of all links shared.

These fringe publishers are referred to as the ‘ten toxic’ and alone have over 186 million followers on mainstream social media platforms. These are Breitbart, Western Journal, Newsmax, Townhall Media, Media Research Center, Washington Times, Federalist Papers, Daily Wire, Patriot Post, and Russian state media. The latter editor covers Sputnik News and RT.com.

Of the posts from these reviewed sites, 92% were not labeled by Facebook as potential sources of disinformation.

CCDH Director General Imran Ahmed said “Ten Toxics” misinformation “is designed to undermine our confidence in the science which clearly shows time and time again that action to deal with man-made climate change is needed. necessary”.

Ahmed added: “The proliferation of fake narratives, fueled by social media algorithms that amplify controversy over consensus, creates confusion when we need action. “

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Sarah george

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