Hats off to Brandalism for exposing corporate greenwash

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Posted Dec 5 2015 by Dave Darby of Lowimpact.org

Genius campaign by a group called Brandalism. They managed to get around 600 spoof but corporate-looking adverts all over Paris in time for the climate talks. The fake ads were the work of 82 artists from 19 countries, and they parody the companies involved in sponsoring the climate talks. Some of the artists are involved with Banksy’s Dismaland exhibition.

Air France – really? We’ve got to the point now where an airline can greenwash itself by sponsoring climate talks? They will have done their homework – either they know that their sponsorship deal will actually make the public think of them as a green company, or they know that the climate talks won’t affect their operations at all – for example by coming to an international agreement to tax aviation fuel (this is not going to happen. The Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation exempts airline fuel from tax, and as the US is totally opposed to changing that, it isn’t going to change).

Their campaign beautifully highlights the connection between advertising and unsustainable consumption levels that contribute to climate change. I’m not sure how many people will actually stop to read the adverts, or whether they’ll just become part of the shouty corporate blur that provides the backdrop to urban life nowadays. I suppose bus stops are the best places to put them, as they have a temporarily captive audience.

The ads have been placed in spaces owned by JC Decaux – although I’m assuming that they were placed there surreptitiously rather than being paid for – which might mean they won’t be around for long.

The poster above manages to cover several very important points:

  1. The utter hypocrisy of an airline trying to green its image by sponsoring an environmental event
  2. The absurdity of  believing that an airline cares about climate change
  3. The legally-binding compulsion for corporations to put profit above all else (they calculate that this sponsorship deal will increase profit)
  4. The fact that the quest for economic growth is the priority of politicians and business, not environmental protection
  5. The fact that the amount of corporate money in our political system amounts to nothing less than bribery

Many other companies are targeted too – for example Volkswagen (‘we’re sorry – that we got caught’).

Here’s a report into whether the corporations sponsoring the climate talks are actually doing anything to mitigate climate change.