Big oil targets clean energy, air in Minnesota
Meanwhile, pro-climate digital ad spending declined week over week
Welcome to Climate Monitor, your weekly digest of the digital tactics and strategies that polluters and climate-action groups are deploying online to shift public opinion and move legislation. We’ve examined political ad spending on platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Google by several dozen groups and corporations from the past week, as well as their activities on social media. Tell your colleagues to subscribe here!
Pro-climate Meta spending declined by more than 20% from the previous week after many groups ended Earth Day acquisition, fundraising, and lead gen campaigns.
Outdoor recreation retailer REI has launched a new digital ad campaign calling on Congress to pass and promote four federal conservation programs.
The American Petroleum Institute started running ads opposing clean energy and clean air regulations in Minnesota, marking the first time it’s invested in ads at the state level this year.
So far, Conservation Minnesota Voter Center has outspent API on Meta ads targeting the state, criticizing some of the same lawmakers whom API used their ads to support.
We found that more Republican candidates for Congress invoked energy issues in their digital ads last week than Democratic candidates.
The most-engaged Facebook and Instagram posts about climate change came from Camila Cabelo, who wore a statement piece to this year’s Met Gala.
National Digital Ad Spending on Climate
First, here are the top 25 spenders nationwide on climate and energy-related ads on Meta platforms from last week:
With Earth Day fully in the rearview mirror, it would appear that most climate, conservation, and clean energy groups scaled back their Facebook ad spending: their cumulative investment in the platform declined by over 20% from the previous week. However, one new spender was the outdoor recreation retailer REI, which has launched a Meta ad campaign calling on Congress to “fund reforestation, outdoor stewardship and transportation alternatives.” The campaign landing page lays out the specific bills and programs that would support these goals.
Additionally, Earthjustice has become one of the biggest spenders on Meta ads among climate groups - spending over $280k so far this year - largely thanks to its most lead gen campaigns over the past few weeks.
For the first time this year, the American Petroleum Institute is using digital ads to oppose state-level legislation. They’re targeting Minnesota with ads opposing clean energy investments and clean air regulations, praising a handful of the state’s Republican senators for “fighting for consumer choice and affordability.” They spent $1,750 targeting the state last week, while Conservation Minnesota Voter Center has spent $3,673 targeting the state with ads criticizing some of those same senators. CM Voter Center’s ads lead to landing pages like this one detailing each senator’s anti-environmental votes.
Overall, here’s a look at how weekly spending on Meta political ads by climate groups and polluters compares week-over-week so far this year:
Google + YouTube
We identified just two Google campaigns relating to energy or climate change last week. ClearPath Action Fund spent another $7,900 on their ongoing campaign supporting Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Reps. Dan Newhouse and Jaime Herrara-Butler. Meanwhile, Climate Power spent another $2,400 on their Google Search campaign targeting the DC media market.
We did not find any new ad campaigns on Snapchat relating to clean energy, conservation, or the environment last week. Overall, here’s how much has been spent by relevant groups on the platform so far this year:
Climate & energy ads in the 2022 elections
Out of some of the most competitive races across the country, we picked up a few new and ongoing Facebook ad campaigns from some of the top candidates:
CA-41: Republican incumbent Ken Calvert launched his first TV ad of the cycle and is now promoting it on Facebook: “[Calvert] is pushing to increase American energy production to lower gas prices.”
CO-8: Republican Jan Kulmann is running new ads highlighting her experience as an oil and gas engineer: “Jan knows how to keep energy costs down. We need affordable energy in Colorado.”
IL-14: In the race against Rep. Lauren Underwood, Jack Lombardi launched a fundraising ad claiming that he will, among other things “make America Energy Independent.”
MN-2: Running against Rep. Angie Craig, Republican Tyler Kistner invoked the vice president in his latest ad: “👎Kamala Harris is imagining a world with zero emissions. Expecting Americans to buy electric cars is not feasible in an economy where families are struggling to make ends meet amidst record high inflation and exorbitant energy costs. Instead of imagining a world, let's make Republicans reclaiming the majority a reality in 2022!”
NC-1: In a crowded Republican primary, Sandy Smith is promoting a radio ad through her Facebook page: “America is under attack by godless communists who support the invasion of our southern border, declared war on American energy, stole the 2020 election, and want to brainwash our children with their radical ideology…I will open up the Keystone Pipeline again and slash the gas tax.”
NC-SEN: Ted Budd is again using Meta ads to promote his Fox News hits discussing gas prices: “The Biden administration is trying to control their narrative, but the American people know that record high inflation and outrageous gas prices are a direct result of Joe Biden's woke, disastrous policies.”
Reaching Frontline Communities
The Green New Deal Network is using Meta ads through a unique page called “Gulf Gathering for Climate Justice and Joy” to promote a festival in Baton Rouge. They’re targeting most of their ads at young women in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana.
Tracking Climate Disinfo Online
Tracking identified approximately 190 tweets with more than 10 retweets,100 Facebook posts with more than 10 engagements and three Telegram posts with more than 50,000 views that contained misinformation or toxic narratives related to the environment from May 03, 2022, through May 09, 2022. More than one million people were exposed to this content on Twitter during the time period reviewed, a decrease from last week's exposure levels. The content had over 12,000 engagements on Facebook, a decrease from last week's exposure levels. The content had over 180,000 views on Telegram.
Almost 100 percent of the people exposed to misinformation or toxic narratives related to the environment on Twitter were exposed to one of the following themes:
Democrats are imposing rules on airlines that will force them out of business (McCarthy attack)
400,000 human accounts exposed on Twitter
Over 530 engagements on Facebook
Minimal Telegram engagement identified.
The new Office of Environmental Justice is a step towards bringing China’s social credit system to America
1,200,000 human accounts exposed on Twitter
Over 550 engagements on Facebook
Over 57,000 views on Telegram.
Bolsonaro said Di Caprio is an eco-hypocrite for his frequent use of jets and yachts
Minimal Twitter engagement identified
Over 4,300 engagements on Facebook
Minimal Telegram engagement identified.
These narratives were also the focus of approximately 75 percent of the Facebook engagements as well as approximately 70 percent of Telegram views identified in our tracking. You can find the full report here.
Measuring the National Organic Conversation
Last week, musician Camila Cabelo earned over 1.5 million interactions across Facebook and Instagram after she wore a “sustainable and up-cycled” dress at this year’s Met Gala to comment on the material decadence that’s fueling climate change. And in another example of celebrity climate activism, a German Formula One racer wore an “Act now or swim later” shirt to warn that Miami could be “the first Grand Prix underwater” by 2060. This act drove at least 115k interactions for ESPN F1 across both Facebook and Instagram.
Among more partisan pages, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez urged elected Democrats to “lead with confidence, fight for a prosperous future for all and protect the vulnerable” and “break through Congressional gridlock on items from student debt to climate.” We found that this statement got at least 40k interactions on Facebook, largely thanks to a lift from Robert Reich. On the other side, Donald Trump Jr. once again shared a video of his father “predicting the current oil crisis,” which got 66k views.
Over on Instagram, we again found few posts mentioning climate change, energy, or related terms that earned a significant amount of engagement, at least outside of Camila Cabelo’s posts. Some of the most engaged posts about climate change came out of India, where the most recent heatwave continues to punish hundreds of millions of people; a recent Tatva India post got over 73k interactions, but a post from CNN about the event got just 46k interactions. On the right, Fox News and Gov. Ron DeSantis together earned nearly 100k interactions promoting a bill he signed that will, in their words, “provide Floridians more than $1.2 billion in tax relief on gas, diapers, school supplies, tools for skilled trades, event tickets and much more,” in an effort to “fight back against Bidenflation.”
That’s it for Climate Monitor this week. As always, head to climatemonitor.substack.com to see these updates in real-time as we publish them throughout the week!
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