Climate groups lauded PA lawmakers ahead of primary elections
Plus, a look at Chevron-backed ads railing against proposed oil development regulations in southern California.
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!
In the days before this week’s primary election, the NRDC Action Fund, EDF Action Fund, and Moms Clean Air Force together spent over $30k on ads targeting Pennsylvania thanking various state legislators for supporting the state’s entry into the RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative).
Household goods brand Dial has joined the trend of running digital ads promoting their recycling efforts.
BP America has launched a new Meta ad campaign targeting the DC area urging Congress to “pass clean energy legislation and bring net zero projects online faster.”
A Chevron-backed group has spent over $90k in the past month targeting Ventura County, CA, with ads arguing that a proposed restriction on local oil developments “force us to import more expensive oil.”
The top-performing Facebook posts mentioning climate change or energy came last week from Heather Cox Richardson and Rep. Ro Khanna, but anti-clean energy content was unusually pervasive on Instagram last week.
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:
We found that last week, investments by climate groups and polluters grew by about 15 percent. While some climate groups, namely Action for the Climate Emergency and the Center for Biological Diversity, significantly grew their email acquisition campaigns in recent days, we did identify others that have launched more issue-focused campaigns. EDF Action, the NRDC Action Fund, and Moms Clean Air Force have all started running ads targeting the Keystone State thanking a variety of state lawmakers for supporting the state’s entry into the RGGI - including Summer Lee, who’s running for Congress near Pittsburgh - just in time for the state’s primary election. Together, these three groups spent $31k targeting the state last week.
A few polluters and climate skeptics also launched new digital ad campaigns last week, including BP America, which is currently targeting the Washington, DC, area with ads urging Congress to “pass clean energy legislation and bring net zero projects online faster.” Additionally, Dial has joined the likes of SC Johnson and Coca-Cola in using digital ads to promote its recycling initiatives, from producing recycled products to partnering with a third-party recycling company.
And on one final note, Power the Future is promoting an op-ed in the Huntington Herald-Dispatch arguing that lauded Sen. Joe Manchin for fighting a “punishing new policy” that would have “made every new natural gas pipeline in America account for all greenhouse gas emissions.” The author of this op-ed was Steve White, former co-chair of the West Virginia Democratic Party and current board member of IGS energy.
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
A Chevron- and Aera Energy-funded group called *takes breath* Stop Measures A & B - A Coalition of Working Families For Jobs and Energy Independence, Supported by Energy Producers has spent nearly $90k targeting Ventura County with Meta and YouTube ads in the past month. The proposed measures would create new regulations for oil and gas developments in the southern California county, and this group argues that these regulations would “force us to import more expensive oil.” Check out one of their YouTube ads below, from a national security expert:
We didn’t identify any new or ongoing Snapchat political ad campaigns from climate groups last week. However, we did find that the WFP National PAC has been running a campaign on the platform supporting Nida Illam in NC-04, in part because “She’s not relying on right-wing dark money and dirty energy lobbyists, because she answers directly to the people.” Overall, here’s how much has been spent by climate 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:
IL-6: In a new video ad, Sean Casten highlights his vision for lowering costs: “As a scientist, and in Congress, I’ve worked to reduce energy costs to rely on renewables, not oil from Putin or the Middle East.”
MN-2: In a new fundraising ad, Republican Tyler Kistner says he wants to “rebuild a prosperous America for future generations” and also argues that “Democrats are destroying our nation – opening our borders, suppressing American energy, indoctrinating children, and weakening America’s stance on the world stage. It’s disgusting – and it’s time to take action!”
NC-SEN: Almost immediately after her primary win, Cheri Beasley launched a fundraising ad campaign with a message from her Notes app: “There is a lot of work ahead of us to deliver real progress for our families - on lower costs, climate change, voting rights and more. That starts with winning this race and expanding our Democratic majority in the Senate.”
Reaching Frontline Communities
Global nonprofit Waterkeeper Alliance has spent around $5k on video ads across Meta platforms showcasing the work and motivations of their “Waterkeepers” in places like North Carolina, Montana, Long Island Sound, Maine, and Georgia. They’re almost exclusively targeting these ads at young adults nationwide.
Tracking Climate Disinfo Online
Triplecheck identified approximately 260 tweets with more than 10 retweets, 95 Facebook posts with more than 10 engagements and 190 Telegram posts with more than 1,000 views that contained misinformation or toxic narratives related to the environment from May 10, 2022, through May 16, 2022. More than nine million people were exposed to this content on Twitter during the time period reviewed, an increase 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 150,000 views on Telegram, a decrease from last week's exposure levels.
Approximately 90 percent of the people exposed to misinformation or toxic narratives related to the environment on Twitter were exposed to one of the following themes:
Bill Gates invested in lab grown breast milk
2,900,000 human accounts exposed on Twitter
Over 650 engagements on Facebook.
Minimal Telegram engagement identified.
Working Americans don't care about climate change
430,000 human accounts exposed on Twitter
Over 4,000 engagements on Facebook.
Over 100,000 views on Telegram
The Biden Administration depleted the US oil supply but will import oil from foreign countries
2,500,000 human accounts exposed on Twitter
Over 350 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 65 percent of Telegram views identified in our tracking. You can find the full report here.
Measuring the National Organic Conversation
On Facebook last week, the top post mentioning climate change and related terms was Heather Cox Richardson’s daily essay post from Wednesday, May 11th. After that, Rep. Ro Khanna’s post echoing Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s call to tax fossil fuel companies got over 38k interactions.
We’ll also note that a post from The Daily Caller undermining the Democratic argument that Big Oil is to blame for high gas prices got about as much engagement as a post from President Joe Biden regarding an Oval Office visit by the King of Jordan. Additionally, Jim Jordan and Patriots United got around 14k interactions each pushing the idea that more domestic oil production would lower gas prices. Overall, here’s how the most engaged content on Facebook mentioning climate, energy, and related terms breaks down:
Over on Instagram, we found that several posts from prominent right-wing accounts, including Donald Trump Jr., dc_draino, Dan Crenshaw, and Ron DeSantis got the most engagement among posts that mentioned climate change and energy. Every single one of them blamed Biden for high gas prices. David J. Harris Jr. took it a step further by dabbling in the Great Replacement Theory by insinuating that Biden giving immigrants baby formula while “our own families are trying to put gas in their cars.” Additionally, Breitbart mocked California Democrats with the claim that “1 in 4 vehicle charging stations in San Francisco out of order.” Overall, here’s how the most engaged content on Instagram mentioning climate, energy, and related terms breaks down:
That’s it for Climate Monitor this week. As always, if you have any comments or questions, feel free to drop us a line by shooting an email to email@example.com.