Fossil fuel lobbying group targets TX Latinos to “Open the Gulf”
Also inside: new pro-pipeline ads from API
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!
Environmental Defense Fund launched a Meta ad campaign last week providing resources on “how to deal with climate anxiety.”
While the American Petroleum Institute is running new ads selling “modern pipelines” as “safer energy transportation,” the Consumer Energy Alliance spent over $5k last week on a campaign targeting Latinos in Texas arguing that gas prices are high because the Biden administration isn’t allowing drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
NRDC launched ad campaigns across Meta and Snapchat praising EPA Administrator Michael Regan for halting the construction of an iron plant in Chicago. They’re also running a campaign in the mid-Atlantic raising awareness about the risks of transporting LNG via rail, particularly in New Jersey.
The most-engaged Facebook content relating to clean energy or climate change last week came from Heather Cox Richardson and Occupy Democrats.
The most successful Facebook content from climate deniers last week involved either calling World Economic Forum attendees hypocrites or Sen. John Kennedy calling Biden’s energy policy “a special kind of stupid.”
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:
Last week, spending by climate groups on Meta political ads outpaced that of polluters, though spending by individual groups was relatively low, with only one group - Earthjustice - having spent more than $30k on the platform last week. Among the groups that ran new Facebook ads last week was the Environmental Defense Fund, which has launched a new campaign about how to deal with climate anxiety. We’d also like to note that while many climate groups have targeted the DC area with digital ads to affect change, we noticed that the Rainforest Action Network appears to be targeting the Cincinnati area to criticize Proctor & Gamble, which is based in the Ohio city, for their complicity in the deforestation of Indonesia for palm oil.
Like climate groups, there wasn’t much new spending on Meta political ads by polluters last week. The American Chemistry Council spent another $92k on the platform promoting “advanced recycling,” and the American Petroleum Institute is running new ads targeting Colorado, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio, Minnesota, and Michigan selling “modern pipelines” as “safer energy transportation.” Since the campaign is so new, it’s not yet clear how much the trade group is investing in it.
One new Meta ad campaign we’re particularly interested in comes from the Consumer Energy Alliance, which is pushing to “Open the Gulf.” The group, which also ran Meta ads last month calling to keep Line 5 open, is now running Spanish-language ads in Texas blaming high gas prices on the Biden administration just days after Interior confirmed it essentially wouldn’t allow any new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
Google + YouTube
We didn’t identify any new climate- or energy-focused political ad campaigns on Google’s platforms from the past week. Chevron and Aera’s Stop Measures A & B spent another $20,900 opposing new oil and gas restrictions in Ventura County, California, while ClearPath Action Fund spent another $7,100 supporting their small slate of Republican congressional candidates.
Last week, Patagonia launched a host of new Snap ads promoting ways that targeted users can get involved to protect their local environments. On top of that, NRDC launched its first ads on the platform for the first time this year to laud EPA Administrator Michael Regan for halting the production of a new iron plant in Chicago. The group is targeting both DC and Chicago with these ads and is also running them on Meta.
Overall, here’s how much has been spent on the platform this year on related ads:
Climate & Energy Ads in the 2022 Elections
Out of some of the most competitive races across the country, we picked up just one new or ongoing Facebook ad campaign from some of the top candidates:
GA-SEN: A couple of days after his victory in the GOP primary, Herschel Walker ran a video ad on Meta platforms saying that “the road to defeating the Biden Agenda runs right through HOME,” and that said road “allows us to produce our own energy instead of asking enemies to produce it for us.”
Reaching Frontline Communities
On top of running new ads in Chicago, NRDC also spent ~$10k on a Meta ad campaign targeting areas in the mid-Atlantic, particularly New York and Pennsylvania. The campaign highlights the dangers of liquid natural gas, as well as the specific risk it may pose to Gibbstown, New Jersey if the Department of Transportation continues to allow the substance to be shipped via rail.
Tracking Climate Disinfo Online
Triplecheck identified approximately 310 tweets with more than 10 retweets, 95 Facebook posts with more than 10 engagements and 250 Telegram posts with more than 1000 views that contained misinformation or toxic narratives related to the environment from May 24, 2022, through May 30, 2022. More than 15 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 17,000 engagements on Facebook, a decrease from last week's exposure levels. The content had over 3,200,000 views on Telegram, an increase from last week's exposure levels.
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:
Alibaba plans for an individual carbon footprint tracker
6,600,000 human accounts exposed on Twitter
Over 1,800 engagements on Facebook
Over 130,000 views on Telegram
The New York subway is dangerous, but environmentalists want people to use it anyway
5,900,000 human accounts exposed on Twitter
Minimal Facebook engagement identified
Over 85,000 views on Telegram
UN climate envoy won’t speak to Rebel News reporter
Minimal Twitter engagement identified
Over 5,200 engagements on Facebook
Over 77,000 views on Telegram
Arctic ice is at 30-year high
Minimal Twitter engagement identified
Minimal Facebook engagement identified
Over 74,000 views on Telegram
These narratives were also the focus of approximately 60 percent of the Facebook engagements, as well as approximately 50 percent of Telegram views identified in our tracking. You can find the full report here.
Measuring the National Organic Conversation
On Facebook last week, some of the top posts mentioning energy, climate change, and related terms came from Heather Cox Richardson and Occupy Democrats. While Richardson’s post broadly discusses the corrupting influence of capitalism on Republicans and democracy since the fall of the Soviet Union, Occupy Democrats’ posts found success in lauding windfall profit taxes on Big Oil.
Elsewhere on Facebook, the World Economic Forum once again helped generate content accusing its climate-minded attendees of being hypocritical for using cars and planes to reach the event. And at the same time, right-wing pages like Newsmax and Sean Hannity are uplifting remarks from Sen. John Kennedy. He said that “[Biden] is clearly obstructing America from drilling for its own oil for environmental reasons. Instead, he wants us to buy oil from foreign countries...transport that oil in tankers that use 2,000 gallons of fuel per hour and emit eight tons of CO2 per hour. The irony is rich. I mean, that’s a special kind of stupid.”
Overall, here’s how the most-engaged content on Facebook mentioning climate, energy, and related terms breaks down:
On Instagram, we found that engagement on content mentioning climate change, clean energy, or related terms was generally lower last week than the previous week. Some of the top content, such as from National Geographic, highlighted a recent One Earth study that found that climate change is literally costing us sleep. The newly elected Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese of the center-left Australian Labor Party, got ~35k interactions on a post that, just days after the election, highlighted the new government’s commitment to climate action. The most successful posts from right-wing pages came from Breitbart, which again mocked anti-highway activists and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for pointing out the racist consequences of our infrastructure, and Newsmax, which boosted Sen. Kennedy’s above statement.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.