Greenwashing LNG: Industry Group Busted

Federal watchdog rules LNG ads are false advertising

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

Image by CAPE

Canada Action, the media group responsible for a barrage of ads extolling the supposed environmental benefits of liquefied natural gas (LNG), is spreading a message that is inaccurate, misleading, and distorts the true meaning of statements by scientists, according to a unanimous ruling by Ad Standards Canada.

The ruling was leaked anonymously to the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) to aid its campaign to ban fossil fuel advertising.

Claiming that “BC LNG will reduce global emissions” violates the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, according to Ad Standards Canada, the agency tasked with ensuring ads are truthful and accurate. The campaign “distorted the true meaning of statements made by professionals or scientific authorities,” “promised a verified result without competent and reliable evidence,” and created an “overall misleading impression … that BC LNG is good for the environment, amounting to greenwashing,” Ad Standards ruled.

The pro-oil and gas ads have popped up all over urban centres in British Columbia and Ontario. Print ads feature white text on a distinctive green background, which the ruling said was “used to emphasize an environmental benefit that liquefied natural gas does not truly have.”

Canada Action is a federal non-profit organization that calls itself a non-partisan, grassroots campaign to encourage support for the Canadian oil and gas industry. It has spent more than $5 million on advertising between 2017-2022, according to public filings. It has not publicly disclosed its funding sources, which include over $7 million in corporate sponsorships, but investigative reporting uncovered payments from the oil and gas industry, including $100,000 from oil and gas giant ARC Resources.

Despite the Ad Standards council decision in January, Canada Action did not remove its ads from billboards, radio, public transit and in major newspapers, including a full-page, front-cover advertisement in the Victoria Times-Colonist on May 4.

Ad Standards Canada´s decisions usually are confidential, but in this case CAPE “felt compelled to make this decision public because people in Canada have the right to not be misled about LNG’s harmful impacts on the climate, the environment and our health,” according to Dr. Melissa Lem, a Vancouver family physician and CAPE’s president. “These ads are textbook cases of greenwashing, right down to the colour.”

Meanwhile, Canada Action is appealing the Ad Standards ruling and asking environmentalists to take down their reports, but “we’re not doing that,” says Reykia Fick, CAPE”s communications director.

CAPE has raised the alarm for many years over the significant harms to human health, ecosystems, and climate change caused by natural gas extraction and burning, especially in BC This includes emerging research linking fracking with adverse birth outcomes (preterm birth, birth defects, low birth weight), childhood leukemia, respiratory and cardiovascular issues, and premature mortality.


Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (www.cape.ca)

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