Thursday, 8 December, 2022

Scientists urge COP27 PR agency to drop fossil fuel firms

PARIS: Over 420 scientists on Friday urged the public relations firm representing upcoming climate talks to drop its fossil fuel clients, including Saudi Aramco, Shell and ExxonMobil.

The firm, Hill+Knowlton, is the leading PR agency at the upcoming UN climate talks (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh opening today, reports AFP.

Hundreds of leading scientists said in their letter Friday the firm should "end its relationship with fossil fuel clients that are worsening the climate crisis".

The scientists said fossil fuel firms "have used Hill+Knowlton and other PR agencies to spin, delay, and mislead in order to continue expanding fossil fuel production and thereby increasing heat-trapping emissions".

"We firmly believe that Hill+Knowlton's work for these clients is incompatible with its role leading public communications at the annual United Nations climate talks", they added, referring to COP27.

Fossil Free Media, which promoted the open letter, said Hill+Knowlton's clients include Saudi Arabia's Aramaco, Britain's Shell and the American firm ExxonMobil, along with the Oil & Gas Climate Initiative.

Hill+Knowlton did not immediately respond to AFP's request for comment on the letter.

The letter's signatories include scientists from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), Harvard University and the University of Oxford.

"Hill+Knowlton's work with fossil fuel clients is an egregious conflict of interest with the mission of COP27 and what is needed to address the worsening impacts of climate change," said Astrid Caldas, Senior Climate Scientist for Community Resilience at UCS.

It was not immediately clear who hired the firm for COP27, but the UK-based website openDemocracy suggested the Egyptian government was behind the decision.

Hill+Knowlton works in dozens of countries globally across a number of sectors, from technology to health, and energy, including oil and gas, nuclear power, mining, renewables and clean technology.

On Thursday, InfluenceMap monitor named ExxonMobil among the top two "most influential companies blocking climate policy action globally" in its assessment of corporate climate policy engagement.

World leaders are meeting in Egypt to tackle the pressing climate change crisis, following a year of deadly floods, heat waves and storms across the planet that laid bare the threats of a warming world.