Slimiest Greenwash Award

One of our most popular categories! 

Many of the world’s worst climate wreckers clamour to slather us with their slimy PR, paying out millions accrued from tax avoidance to convince us that they are trying to heal the world rather than plunder and destory it for greed.

A lot of the usual suspects of big polluters and fossil financers made the list, but some have leaned in so hard into green washing their image, that they achieved multiple nominations.

Put a ring on their sleazy efforts by voting for the greenwash that makes you 🤮 most.

Our Nominees

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The Drax Cooling Towers

It’s been a big year for the Drax cooling tower, as it became the public face of crap, co-optive PR for climate-liars Drax not once, but twice. Firstly the cooling towers lit up blue, as a show of support for the NHS during the pandemic. Of course, the climate crisis is also a health crisis, which this cooling tower chose to omit. 

All a bit naff perhaps, but this was only the beginning as the cooling tower lit up with a poppy for Armistice Day. Pretty weird, but then again, we are a country that once made the Cookie Monster wear a poppy on national television. Anyway, as others have pointed out, projecting a poppy onto a decaying piece of coal infrastructure produces some really confusing messaging. 

 

INEOS’s Sportwashing

For a company that produces air too toxic to breathe, INEOS are unironically marketing themselves as promoters of active living. In a move that should be beyond satire, they sponsor children’s active living initiative ‘The Daily Mile’ (although see here for the anti sponsorship campaign). They also sponsor Lewis Hamilton, a Tour de France team (the INEOS Grenadiers), the UK Sailing team (INEOS Team UK) and Nice Football Club. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

HSBC’s ‘We Are Not an Island’ Campaign

The Richard Ayoade adverts (why Richard, why?) and the schmaltzy ‘We are not an Island’ billboards now feel etched into all our consciousnesses. This cosy image lies about an institution that in 2020 financed billions of pounds worth of fossil fuels, got caught facilitating money laundering and supported pro-democracy crackdowns in Hong Kong etcetera, etcetera. This deceptiveness was subject to a rather bold and timely Brandalism takeover of bus stops and billboards across the UK.

 

Shell Rebranding to She’ll for International Women’s Day

For International Women’s Day 2020, Shell rebranded their social media to She’ll, pushing for, we assume, gender equality in people killed by climate breakdown. If so, they still have a long way to go as women and non binary people remain disproportionately impacted by their climate destruction.


Total’s #MakeTheSwitch
In July 2020, Total signed a $14.9 billion deal to extract gas from Mozambique. A few days later they launched #MakeTheSwitch, a new media project telling the stories of those that have “Switched” to a more sustainable lifestyle. Yes, the companies fuelling climate breakdown are again telling you to be more ethical. We suspect #MakeTheSwitch may sidestep the stories of front-line defenders in Mozambique, resisting Total’s livelihood-wrecking plans.

BP’s Sponsorship of the British Museum

Proudly sponsoring our history while destroying our future, oil giant BP’s long-running love affair with the British Museum is mutual. The cultural institution’s Chairman leapt to the defence of the firm’s dirty business practices after one of the museum’s trustees resigned – in part – over the continuation of the controversial partnership. With its logos splashed across exhibitions and endorsements from those at the top, BP’s loose change has bought it some valuable backing and social legitimacy from this highly trusted and iconic museum. 

The museum’s contract with BP is up for renewal in 2021. It would be a shame if massive public opposition to the deal somehow ruined BP’s plan to keep using cultural sponsorship to distract from the fact it’s destroying the world.

Shell’s Social Media Poll

Shell’s second greenwashing nomination! This rather embarrassing attempt from Shell – asking you what you are willing to change to combat climate change – was met with widespread derision. Good. This is all part of a concerted plan by Shell to shift the burden of climate breakdown onto you, the ‘consumer’, as their business model encourages customers to reduce the carbon ‘intensity’ of their products, conveniently allowing Shell to continue polluting. 

Drax’s ‘Sustainable’ Tree Burning

For a masterclass in slimy greenwashing techniques which have led to forest destruction, environmental injustice & climate-wrecking emissions, we need look no further than Drax Power Station in Yorkshire. 

It’s been a big year for the UK’s single biggest carbon emitter and the world’s biggest tree burner as it continues its claims that burning trees in power stations is “renewable” energy and that it can become the world’s first “carbon negative” power station by 2030 by capturing and storing the carbon it emits from its wood burning. 

What Drax isn’t revealing is that much of the wood it burns comes from the logging of biodiverse forests in the Southern USA, Canada and the Baltic and that its tree burning is destroying forests, harming wildlife, polluting communities and making the climate crisis worse

“Sustainable” Tree Burning

Nor is Drax admitting that its pledge to “build back better” with “negative emissions technologies” is based on unproven Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) technology from tree burning – a dangerous false solution which would lead to even more forest destruction and conversion of land to monoculture tree plantations if it ever worked.

For this commitment to deception, Drax have received a special second nomination for our Slimiest Greenwash Award. 

Blackrock’s Sustainable Investment Campaign

You may not have heard of BlackRock before but this US financial firm is a truly slimy greenwasher which is one of the world’s biggest drivers of forest destruction, human rights abuses and the climate crisis!

BlackRock is the world’s biggest investment fund manager with huge financial and political influence, including links to US President-elect, Joe Biden! BlackRock has had a busy year promoting its “green funds”, its membership of the Climate Action 100+ group and “its sustainable investments” for clients including Oxford University and the MP Pension Fund.

Behind this “green” image, however, BlackRock is actually the world’s largest investor in fossil fuel companies, including corporations involved in Arctic oil drilling, the expansion of the coal industry and the extraction of tar sands oil, the most polluting form of oil on earth. 

BlackRock is also one of the largest investors in companies responsible for climate-wrecking deforestation, land grabs and human rights abuses in the Amazon rainforest, Indonesia, Liberia and Papua New Guinea. Moreover, BlackRock is one of the largest shareholders in another prestigious nominee for the greenwashing award, Drax Power Station in Yorkshire, which is the UK’s single largest polluter and the world’s biggest tree burner.

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