Climate Monitor: October 28th

Exxon made their biggest weekly Facebook political ad buy all year last week as Election Day, BBB passage near

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!

Here’s what we found:

National Digital Ad Spending on Climate

Here are the top 25 spenders nationwide on climate and energy-related ads on Facebook from last week:

Additionally, here’s how much major groups have spent week-to-week on Facebook ads related to climate, conservation, and energy. Once again, polluters spent more on Facebook ads last week than climate groups, with the former group having spent $693,661 while the latter spent $534,914. This gap is almost entirely due to more huge investing in the platform by ExxonMobil, which alone spent more on Facebook ads last week than all the climate groups we track *combined*. However, as of this writing, the oil company is not currently running any ads on the platform.

We found that the League of Conservation Voters and the Green New Deal Network are among the few environmental groups that have started running new Facebook ads supporting the Build Back Better agenda. LCV has started running video ads supporting Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, Mark Kelly, and Maggie Hassan that highlight the positive climate + clean energy impacts of the package, while the GND Network has launched new ads supporting a variety of members of Congress, attacking Kyrsten Sinema for her obstruction, and calling on Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to stop subsidizing fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, we’ve identified five climate + conservation groups that ran ads on Google and YouTube last week: the NRDC Action Fund, The Nature Conservancy, LCV, NC WARN, and Friends of the Earth. These groups spent a total of $46,800 on the platform last week, most of which going toward ads that support or advocate for climate action elements of the Build Back Better agenda. 

However, only two of these groups are running new ads. The Nature Conservancy launched a new banner ad campaign urging Reps. Ed Case, Tom O’Halleran, Josh Gottheimer, and Kurt Schrader, and Sens. Maggie Hassan, Bob Casey, and Catherine Cortez Masto not to “lose this opportunity to support climate action.” NC Warn is also running Google banner ads again that urge North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper to oppose the construction of new fracking plants from Duke Energy.

Overall, here are the top 10 spenders on climate ads on Snapchat so far this year. One of the biggest spenders on energy ads on the platform in recent weeks is Vote No to Protect Maine, which is continuing to run video ads opposing an initiative that would effectively halt a hydroelectric power corridor project in northwest Maine.

Climate Action in Battleground States

It’s hard to believe that Election Day is already next week! And with the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections soon to be in the rearview, the ‘22 midterms will be right in front of us, whether we’re ready or not. So, starting this week, we’re going to be tracking the climate, clean energy, and conservation ads that voters in key states are seeing online. While the exact nature of next year’s campaigns is still uncertain, we’re going to be keeping an eye on climate ads in races in eight key states: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. 

FL-GOV: In his comeback bid, Charlie Crist just started running fundraising ads hammering Ron DeSantis’ nonexistent climate action record: “Governor Ron DeSantis is a NO on preventing climate change, a NO on preparing for its effects, and a NO on protecting the Everglades. That’s reason enough for Floridians to say NO to giving him a second term! Pitch in now to help Charlie defeat Governor DeSantis and elect a governor who will protect our beautiful natural environment and our planet.”

FL-SEN: Val Demings, who spent over $78k on Facebook ads last week, ran acquisition ads arguing to abolish the filibuster, saying that Mitch McConnell is “using the filibuster to STOP Democrats from taking action on voting rights, health care, climate change and more.”

GA-SEN: Like Demings, Raphael Warnock is using prospective action on climate change and other issues (as well as Stacey Abrams) to collect emails: “Not only are the future of Stacey’s organizing work and our progressive agenda on health care, the minimum wage and climate in jeopardy – but this GOP onslaught endangers our very DEMOCRACY.” 

NH-SEN: Maggie Hassan’s campaign has also incorporated language about climate action into her recent fundraising ads: “The GOP will stop at nothing to block every aspect of the Democrats’ agenda, and they need to win just ONE seat to take back control of our Senate and halt progress on climate change, affordable and accessible health care, voting rights and so much more.”

PA-SEN: We found a handful of recent ads from Malcolm Kenyatta advocating for climate justice in some recent fundraising ads: “I’m certain with your help, we can take our movement for affordable childcare, climate justice, and livable wages to the Senate.”

Measuring the National Organic Conversation

The top 3 performing posts mentioning climate or energy issues on Facebook last week came from Vice President Kamala Harris (24.3k interactions), Bloomberg Opinion (22.3k interactions), and the U.S. Department of Energy (21.1k interactions).

While the most-engaged post about climate change last week came from Harris, we found that Sean Hannity deployed a common counter-narrative against her recent trip to Lake Mead in a post last week that got 10k interactions. He asserted her as a hypocrite by pointing out that she used combustion-engine vehicles to make the trip. This rhetorical tactic fits with a video from Glenn Beck last week that got 11.7k interactions and 133k views, in which he argues that “President Biden wants to fundamentally change our economy. This is about control, not about climate or anything else.” 

The most-engaged article about climate change and clean energy last week was a Daily Wire story implicitly celebrating Joe Manchin’s completely unsurprising resistance to a carbon tax, a pay-for proposal that was on the table for Democrats for less than an afternoon. Nonetheless, the article got 28.9k interactions on Facebook, largely thanks to shares from Ben Shapiro (“Manchin is making himself abundantly clear.”), United American Patriots (“I can't believe it ... a DEMOCRAT is now one of my favorite people! 😳”), and Matt Walsh (“He's not budging off his non-negotiables.”)

When it comes to the best-performing Facebook content from Democrats and advocates for climate action, familiar accounts were the ones driving the message. Aside from Harris and the DoE up top, we saw posts from Joe Biden, The White House, and Jeff Merkley get relatively high engagement of about 15k interactions each. They each underlined the importance of climate action, but Merkley was more direct than the president: “Anyone who says we can't afford to take action on climate is lying to you.”

Overall, here were the top three most engaged posts on Instagram mentioning climate or energy issues last week. The third - which won’t embed into Substack because it’s an IGTV clip - is Dan Crenshaw using a Joe Rogan clip to advance his radical anti-climate views, fitting in with the narrative we mentioned above; that Democrats are lying about their climate convictions to advance legislation that would “control” Americans.

A post shared by Barack Obama (@barackobama)
A post shared by The Guardian (@guardian)

Finally, here were the top three tweets mentioning climate and related terms last week. The most-engaged tweet and several other highly-engaged tweets mentioning climate change came from Hyundai in its partnership social media campaign with BTS. The k-pop group’s fan base is extremely active on Twitter, so we’re not at all surprised to see that this campaign from Hyundai has gotten as much engagement as it has.

TL;DR:

  • ExxonMobil capped off a nearly million-dollar Facebook ad campaign last week ahead of today’s Big Oil hearing before the House Oversight Committee and the potential passage of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.

  • The League of Conservation Voters, Green New Deal Network, and The Nature Conservancy are among the few climate groups that have started running new pro-BBB ads in the past week.

  • Several Democratic campaigns are incorporating climate action into their online fundraising pitches, but Charlie Crist in FL-GOV is one of the only candidates that’s running Facebook ads solely about climate action and conservation.

  • Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Dan Crenshaw used social media to advance a narrative that Democrats and climate advocates are using climate action as a cover to pass laws that would “control” Americans.

  • Hyundai ran a social media campaign in partnership with BTS to encourage the youngest generation to “live carbon neutral.”


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! 

And if you have any comments or questions, feel free to drop us a line by shooting an email to ClimateMonitor@DCC.org.