OECD complaint against BP over 'misleading' ad campaign sets precedent for action on corporate greenwashing, lawyers say

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16 June 2020

BP greenwashing complaint sets precedent for action on misleading ad campaigns

Author: ClientEarth

An OECD complaint filed by  ClientEarth lawyers alleging oil giant BP misled the public in its advertising campaign would have proceeded had the company not already committed to end the ad campaign...

In a decision lawyers say sets a precedent for complaints against corporate greenwashing, the UK National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (NCP) has assessed ClientEarth’s world first complaint as being material and substantiated, despite the complaint not proceeding due to BP ending its ad campaign.

In December 2019, ClientEarth lawyers lodged a complaint alleging BP’s global ‘Keep Advancing’ and ‘Possibilities Everywhere’ ad campaigns misled the public by focusing on BP’s low carbon energy products, when more than 96% of BP’s annual spend is on oil and gas.

In February 2020, BP withdrew its advertisements and its CEO Bernard Looney said they would not be replaced under the company’s new policy promising an end to ‘corporate reputation advertising’. He also committed BP to redirecting its advertising resources towards advocating for progressive climate policies.

Today the NCP, which sits within the UK’s Department for International Trade, released its initial assessment of ClientEarth’s complaint, which will not proceed further given BP has already withdrawn the campaign in question...

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13 December 2019

Lawyers launch complaint against BP over 'misleading' ad on its commitment to a low carbon future

Author: Sandra Laville, The Guardian

"Lawyers lodge complaint over BP's 'misleading' ad campaign’", 4 Dec 2019

Environmental lawyers have lodged a complaint against a multimillion pound global advertising campaign by BP, which they said was misleading the public with its claims of commitment to a low carbon future.

ClientEarth is calling for the BP ads to be banned unless they include a health warning saying that using the company’s oil and gas products creates greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to the climate crisis.

The warning would be similar to that placed prominently on cigarette packets.

In a detailed complaint to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the legal NGO ClientEarth argued the ad campaign breached international guidelines governing corporate conduct...

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.” ...

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