Global leaders and entities launch open letter for further action against climate disinformation campaigns.
By Daniele Savietto
One of the great evils of our century is fighting the orchestrated networks of disinformation that are increasingly circulating and affecting all crucial points of our life in society, such as the democratic rule of law, adherence to vaccines and also climate change.
The truth is that as much content has never been produced and shared as today, to have a dimension, according to Visual Capitalist statistics, in 2021 people shared 240 thousand photos on Facebook per minute or even more than 41 million photos. messages were exchanged by WhatsAPP, for example.
Perhaps this would not be such a worrying scenario if people knew how to critically interpret the content they receive, but research indicates just the opposite. A survey carried out by Stanford University’s History and Education group found that young people do not know how to assess whether information is false or true or even distinguish between an article and an advertisement.
Another relevant data was pointed out by the OECD through Pisa, which found that only 33% of Brazilian students are able to differentiate between facts and opinions.
In this scenario, there is an urgency to combat climate disinformation and that is why names like Christiana Figueres and Laurence Tubiana lead a collective effort at this COP27 and present an open letter, in which approximately 550 climate leaders, brands and advertising agencies warn that false allegations in the media and social media threaten to derail global climate action, and call for the Conference to take a step forward by adopting a universal definition of climate disinformation. ClimaInfo, Observatório do Clima and Instituto Clima e Sociedade are among the Brazilian organizations that signed the letter.
The content of the letter is quite blunt and summarizes critical points such as the evaluations of the scientific community present in the latest UNEP Emissions Gap Report that point out that we are on our way to 2.8°C of global warming, a value well above the target of 1.5°C from the Paris Agreement.
Recalling that “While emissions continue to rise, humanity faces climate catastrophe, but economic and political interests continue to organize and fund misinformation and misinformation about the climate to prevent action.”
The letter is emphatic about the impossibility of overcoming climate change without fighting disinformation. That’s because, according to the report, “the spread of scientifically misleading information by organized counter-movements has fueled polarization, with negative implications for climate policy.”
And we know these campaigns are orchestrated and deployed for big money, according to the open letter, “Disinformation is now an estimated $2.6 billion business that uses technology platforms to sow falsehoods in everything from the recent referendum in Chile and the expansion of clean energy technologies in the US to the causes of rising inflation and the cost of living in the UK. There is a significant risk that the upcoming COP27 will be seriously undermined or even that violence may be inspired against it.”
As such, it is no exaggeration to say that actions need to be taken for yesterday, the letter states that the European Union has become the first policy-making body to officially recognize the urgency of defining and combating climate disinformation and misinformation.”
Bearing in mind that the COP is the place par excellence where climate diplomacy takes place and proposals are designed, so it is necessary to take advantage of this moment to instigate rapid and collective action.
The letter explains how misinformation works, noting that these campaigns misrepresent scientific data in order to erode trust in science and deny human influence on climate change.
Therefore, the letter is a tool to reach the CEOs of large corporations such as Meta, Google, Twitter, TikTok and Reddit, crying out for:
• Implementation of climate and enforcement disinformation and disinformation policies that extend to content, algorithms and advertising, similar to the robust COVID-19 policies that have been published.
• Accept the universal definition of climate misinformation/disinformation.
• Produce and disseminate a transparent business plan to eliminate the spread of misinformation and climate misinformation on their platform
• Consider community standards that do not allow the monetization of misleading statements about climate science or policy.
• A transparent fact-checking process that includes how misinformation and climate misinformation are categorized and handled by independent fact-checkers and how they are protected from politicization by company staff.
• Advertise a zero-tolerance approach directly to users.
These are some of the points defended by the letter that already has thousands of signatures. You can also sign HERE and give your voice to the fight against one of the greatest problems of the 21st century.