Environmental lawyers have filed a complaint against BP claiming it is “misleading” consumers over its action on climate change and the energy transition.
ClientEarth lawyers have today filed a high-level action against BP, claiming that it is misleading consumers about its focus on low carbon energy in a multi-million pound advertising campaign.
The lawyers have opened an official complaints procedure against BP under the guidelines of international set of rules governing corporate conduct.
The legal complaint focuses on BP’s ‘Keep Advancing’ and ‘Possibilities Everywhere’ campaigns.
BP “strongly rejected” the accusation and insisted it was committed to advancing a low carbon future.
Climate Earth lawyers claim BP undertook a “marketing blitz” over a decade – including adverts shown on billboards, in newspapers and television in the UK, US and Europe.
ClientEarth climate lawyer Sophie Marjanac said the complaint features a dossier of more than 100 pages of evidence examining BP’s advertising and the impression it creates for ordinary consumers.
She said: “BP is spending millions on an advertising campaign to give the impression that it’s racing to renewables, that its gas is cleaner, and that it is part of the climate solution.
“This is a smokescreen. While BP’s advertising focuses on clean energy, in reality, more than 96% of the company’s annual capital expenditure is on oil and gas.
“According to its own figures, BP is spending less than four pounds in every hundred on low-carbon investments each year. The rest is fuelling the climate crisis.”
The lawyers claim BP has distributed a “potentially misleading impression” by focusing on its renewable energy investments.
Also in question are BP’s assertions that increasing global energy demand can be met by gas extraction.
ClientEarth’s complaint is calling on BP to cease its advertising campaign until it complies with the OECD guidelines, issue a correction and ensure all future advertising complies with the rules.
It has also called for all fossil fuel advertising to be banned unless it comes with tobacco-style health warning.
Ms Marjanac added: “In the past, tobacco companies were able to mislead the public about the safety of their products. We see real parallels with fossil fuel companies and the tobacco industry, which knew about the risks their products posed but used misleading marketing campaigns to sell them regardless.
“Make no mistake, this is a climate emergency.
“You only need to see the increase in extreme weather events around the world – from flooding in the UK, to wildfires in the US and Australia. Meanwhile BP is doubling down on business as usual, running its biggest ad campaign since the Deepwater Horizon disaster to put up a shiny green facade for the public.”