Greenpeace uses Facebook ads to counter Coca-Cola’s greenwashing campaign
Meanwhile, other climate groups use digital ads to push Build Back Better, Giving Tuesday fundraising
Welcome to Climate Monitor, your weekly digest of the online information wars over climate and energy issues. 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!
What we found:
The Coca-Cola Company’s greenwashing Facebook ad campaign continued to grow, spending a quarter million dollars on the platform last week, while Greenpeace started running counter-programming ads targeting young adults in the company’s home state of Georgia.
Over half a dozen climate groups made some of their biggest investments in Facebook and Instagram ads this year to fundraise around Giving Tuesday.
The League of Conservation Voters, ACORE, and Climate Power were among the climate groups who ran digital ads supporting the Build Back Better Act last week.
On Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, we found several examples of highly engaged posts from right-wing personalities like Dan Crenshaw that spun genuine consequences of climate change into evidence that climate change is not real.
We’d also like to highlight some excellent work by Cristian Sanchez, the Deputy Data Director at the Digital Climate Coalition, who took Facebook and Google spending data we’ve collected over the past nine months and made a data visualization of who the biggest online spenders are among climate groups and polluters. You can check out the full Tableau workbook here.
National Digital Ad Spending on Climate
Here are the top 25 spenders nationwide on climate and energy-related ads on Facebook from last week:
Last week, we saw a nearly 60 percent increase in how much climate groups spent on Meta ads compared to the previous week. The 56 climate, conservation, and clean energy groups we track spent $765,626 last week versus $482,166 the previous week, and we found that several of the groups driving this jump in Facebook advertising investment seemed to have mostly dedicated their ad dollars to fundraising, especially around Giving Tuesday. These groups include the National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife, Greenpeace, NRDC, the Ocean Conservancy, the Sierra Club, and the Wilderness Society.
While many climate groups were focusing their Facebook ad budgets on spending money to make money last week, we did identify a few groups who used ads on the platform to push for the Build Back Better Act. Climate Power and the League of Conservation Voters are both running national campaigns, with the former spending ~$10k touting the clean energy investments in BBB. Meanwhile, it looks like almost all of the $160,483 LCV spent on Facebook ads last week went to thanking 80 House Democrats for passing the bill out of their chamber.
Among the climate groups running more targeted ads was ACORE, which spent $16,578 on ads targeting Arizona and West Virginia touting the economic benefits of wind and solar energy development. We also noticed that Greenpeace has spent around $1,500 on a series of ads going after Coca-Cola for its greenwashing ads, targeting young adults in Georgia, the company’s home.
At the same time, Coca-Cola increased its own Meta ad spending last week to $275,247 from $179,971, making it the single biggest investor in political ads on the platforms last week - and as far as we can tell, all of it went to its greenwashing ads we covered last week. However, they weren’t the only polluters to significantly grow their Meta ads; we also noticed that BP and ConocoPhillips also spent relatively heavily on the platforms last week. While BP has spent nearly $100k on Facebook ads talking up their investments in clean energy targeting mostly young men, ConocoPhillips is running more conventional ads touting “balanced energy policies” and how “a strong American economy needs a strong energy industry behind it.” Their ads primarily target older users in Texas.
Additionally, here’s how much major groups have spent week-to-week on Facebook ads related to climate, conservation, and energy.
We found that two climate groups made notable investments in Google and YouTube ads last week, according to the Google Transparency Report. The first is Climate Power, which spent $20,200 on YouTube ads targeting the Washington, DC, media market that touts in just 30 seconds how much the Build Back Better Act will do to lower costs for working families and invest in clean energy. They also ran Google Search ads targeting a slew of congressional districts represented by Democrats:
At the same time, LCV spent $2,100 on the same three pro-BBB YouTube ads they’ve been running for over a month in Nevada, Arizona, and New Hampshire.
When it comes to climate ads on Snap, Patagonia was again the only group or company running ads on the platform last week, but while they usually only spend a few hundred dollars on the platform each week, they spent $4,240 there last week. It looks like most of their ads supported various projects and organizations for Giving Tuesday.
Overall, here’s how much groups and companies have invested in climate, clean energy, and conservation Snap ads so far this year:
Climate, clean energy, and conservation ads in next year’s key states
We picked up a few new Facebook ads mentioning climate change, conservation, and/or energy in some of the biggest races Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
FL-SEN: Val Demings again ran nationwide email acquisition Facebook ads centered around ending the filibuster to act on climate: “Mitch McConnell is using the filibuster to stop Democrats from protecting voting rights. To stop Democrats from expanding health care access. To stop any action on climate change. The only way we can break the GOP’s obstruction is by ending the filibuster NOW.”
NC-SEN: Cheri Beasley spent under $100 on a set of fundraising ads on Facebook highlighting her priorities: “The year is almost over, but our fight for affordable health care, criminal justice reform, and climate justice is not.”
NC-SEN: Ted Budd ran a few Facebook ads last week targeting the Build Back Better Act and the Biden administration for rising prices: “Millions of people are struggling to pay for groceries and gas. What is Joe Biden's response? He told the American people to "maintain perspective." What a slap in the face!”
NH-SEN: Maggie Hassan also rolled out a series of fundraising ads on Facebook highlighting climate action as a campaign plank: “What’s at stake if we give up and allow McConnell and the GOP to take back the Senate? An end to the progress we’ve made on guaranteeing access to the ballot box, securing a woman’s right to choose and battling the climate crisis.”
PA-SEN: John Fetterman launched a series of Facebook ads this week highlighting the filibuster as the source of Democratic inaction in Washington: “ I’m running as a get sh*t done Democrat, and if elected I promise to vote to get rid of the filibuster and fight to pass legislation that will establish at least a $15 minimum wage, expand voting rights, combat climate change, and so much more.”
PA-SEN: Malcolm Kenyatta ran a series of Facebook ads last week specifically discussing climate action, some of which directly go after Joe Manchin: “Many Senators like Joe Manchin aren’t understanding the seriousness of the climate crisis, but Representative Malcolm Kenyatta has made climate justice a main factor of his campaign.”
PA-SEN: Carla Sands launched a pair of ads this week attacking BBB: “MASSIVE TAX HIKES GREEN NEW DEAL / 4 TRILLION-DOLLAR SPENDING BILL / WE NEED TO REJECT SOCIALISM / AND TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK.”
WI-SEN: Mandela Barnes also ran a series of fundraising ads last week focused on abolishing the filibuster to act on climate change: “Everything is riding on flipping this Wisconsin Senate seat – the Senate Democratic majority, abolishing the filibuster, and every issue you care about from voting rights to climate change to health care.”
Reaching Frontline Communities
The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona has spent several hundred dollars on a pair of Facebook and Instagram ads targeting young adults in Arizona that highlight basic facts about carbon dioxide pollution. They also spent under $900 on a series of PSA-like ads discussing air quality index measurements and how climate change can impact water quality.
Measuring the National Organic Conversation
The top 3 performing posts mentioning climate or energy issues on Facebook last week came from Barack Obama (60.7k interactions), Breitbart (50.1k interactions), and professional car enthusiast David Freiburger (23.1k interactions), who appears to have started a good-faith discussion about the net sustainability of electric vehicles.
Last week seemed to be a banner week for Breitbart and its subversive climate-denying content. Not only did the second-most-engaged Facebook post about climate change come from Breitbart, but the propaganda site actually generated the most engagement on articles about climate change, generating 27.3k interactions, second only to Reuters, which generated 45.3k interactions on its articles related to climate change. Furthermore, the most-engaged article about climate last week also came from Breitbart, generating 15.8k interactions on its own.
While Breitbart used the blizzard in Hawaii to reinforce the narrative among climate skeptics that “the climate is always changing,” Occupy Democrats actually used the same story to provide evidence to its audience that “CLIMATE CHANGE IS OUT OF CONTROL!” However, Occupy was only about to generate 12.2k interactions compared to Breitbart’s 50.1k interactions.
Overall, the top three Instagram posts about climate change and related terms came from
Barack Obama (232.6k interactions), actress Kate Walsh (194.9k interactions), and Dan Crenshaw (66.5k interactions). We’d also like to note that Kamala Harris generated 60.6k interactions on a pair of posts touting the positive benefits of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Finally, here were the top three tweets mentioning climate and related terms last week. We also found that an article from UK-based Carbon Brief that stated the CO2 emissions have plateaued - a troubling development for those of us who desperately want to see them sharply decline - seems to have been interpreted by climate skeptics on Twitter to mean that climate science in general is bogus. Additionally, a right-wing podcaster claimed that “The manipulation of gas price is fully intended to scare us into driving electric cars,” getting 11k interactions on just that tweet.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.