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article imageTop PR firms publicly rule out working with climate deniers

By Karen Graham     Aug 6, 2014 in Environment
Public relations firms have played a major role in fueling the climate change debate, from pushing solutions to the problem, to disinformation campaigns. Recently though, there has been a shift in this multi-million dollar industry.
Some of the world's best known and top public relations firms have come out and publicly said they will not work with climate change deniers. Responding to a survey conducted by the Guardian and the Climate Investigations Center, ten of the world's top 25 PR firms told the Guardian they will not represent clients who were climate change deniers, or take on campaigns that were against issuing regulations limiting carbon pollution.
The firms included, WPP, Waggener Edstrom (WE) Worldwide, Weber Shandwick, Text100, and Finn Partners, according to the Guardian. “We would not knowingly partner with a client who denies the existence of climate change,” said Rhian Rotz, spokesman for WE. Weber Shandwick went further, explaining their stand on campaigns that would block carbon emissions regulations and promoting renewable energy solutions.
“We would not support a campaign that denies the existence and the threat posed by climate change, or efforts to obstruct regulations cutting greenhouse gas emissions and/or renewable energy standards,” Weber Shandwick spokeswoman Michelle Selesky said. “There may be scenarios in which we could represent a client that has different views on climate change, just not on this issue.”
U.S.-based Edelman, the world's largest public relations company came close, but didn't say they wouldn't take on climate deniers as clients. “Expanding the dialogue in a constructive manner, and driving productive outcomes to solve energy challenges are the key criteria for evaluating client engagements,” said spokesman Michael Bush. Bush said they take on clients on a case-by-case basis.
There was a reason behind tackling PR firms, because they are a silent partner helping large corporations to exert their influence through advertising campaigns. These campaigns are much bigger than putting an ad in the newspaper or on a billboard. Kert Davies, the founder of Climate Investigations says, “The PR industry is a major component of the influence peddling industry that stretches across Washington and the world, and they are making large sums of money from energy companies and other important players that have businesses connected to fossil fuels and energy policy."
The campaigns use complex online and social media platforms tied to policy objectives and lobbyists. Some PR companies even have lobbying services. There are many more firms out there, according to Davies, and some of them are unscrupulous in the way they run their campaigns. Davies singles-out one such company, Nichols-Dezenhall, now Dezenhall Resources. They dote on corporations or people in crisis, ready to advise them, for a very large fee.
While public relations companies do their best to sway public opinion, for or against climate change, the Huffington Post reported that a Forum Research poll found 81 percent of Canadians accepted the reality of global warming, with 58 percent believing it was human-caused, and an Ipsos MORI found that 54 percent of Americans believed in human-caused climate change.
The Huffington Post added an interesting observation, saying research shows that climate change denial is more prevalent in English-speaking countries, but that could be because of the political ideologies in English-speaking countries. The countries with the largest numbers of climate deniers are the U.S., Australia and the U.K. Canada is far down on the list.
More about Climate change, emissionreducing regulations, disinformation campaigns, Global warming, multimillion dollar