The British environmental group ClientEarth has filed a complaint against British Petroleum (BP), alleging that the energy company's current advertising misleads the public.
ClientEarth asserts that an advertising campaign launched in January 2019 under the titles "Keep Advancing" and "Possibilities Everywhere" is misleading in the way it presents BP's low-carbon energy activities. The complaint alleges that the campaign runs afoul of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which require clear, honest, accurate and informative communications between enterprises and the public. The complaint asserts that the advertising gives a false impression of the relative scale of renewable and low-carbon energy in BP's business; misleadingly omits full lifecycle emissions for natural gas and claims an inaccurate emissions saving against coal combustion; and misleadingly asserts that increases in global primary energy demand are both desirable and inevitable for human progress and development.
ClientEarth filed the complaint against BP with the UK National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (UK NCP), an administrative body. The complaint asks BP to take certain steps to correct the allegedly misleading information, including by withdrawing specific advertisements and issuing a statement explaining the withdrawal. The complaint further asks that the UK NCP find BP in violation of the OECD Guidelines if BP does not take the requested steps.
As a result of the complaint, BP has withdrawn the advertising campaign and pledged that it will discontinue “corporate reputation
advertising” and redirect “resources to promote net zero policies, ideas, actions, collaborations and its own net zero ambition.” Although the NCP's Initial Assessment confirmed that the complaint was material and substantiated, the case was subsequently discontinued after BP withdrew the advertising campaign in question.