DeSmog

Peabody Energy's Insincere 'Energy Poverty' Campaign Takes Major Hit

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Two stories out late last week in the Guardian will seriously test the resolve of Peabody Energy’s “Advanced Energy for Life” campaign.

The first Guardian article’s title says it all: “Exclusive – Energy giant exploited Ebola crisis for corporate gain, say health experts.”

Ouch.

Journalist Suzanne Goldenberg reports that as part of a “PR offensive to rebrand coal as the ’21st century fuel’ that can help solve global poverty” Peabody Energy’s CEO Greg Boyce claimed in a powerpoint presentation that more energy would “have spurred the distribution of a hypothetical Ebola vaccine.”

Reacting to Peabody’s Ebola claim, public health experts described it as “ludicrous, insulting and opportunistic.”

The second Guardian article, also by Suzanne Goldenberg, exposes a questionable video interview posted on Peabody Energy’s Advanced Energy for Life campaign site.

The video, titled: “From Candles to Computers” is the of story Linda Jing, a woman growing up in rural China who only has candles available to do her schoolwork. As the story goes, Ms. Jing is saved from a life of impoverished living by the wonders of coal.

As the Guardian reports, it turns out that Ms. Jing, who is now an executive at Monsanto, actually grew up in relative prosperity in China. Ms. Jing’s late father was appointed to a senior position at the Dantong coal mining sector in rural China. Her two elder brothers and sisters-in-law still work at the Dantong mine, which also just happens to be the same region that Peabody Energy recently completed a major new deal. 

Jing says she was recruited to do the video after she was approached by Peabody at a women’s networking event. 

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Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmog. He runs the digital marketing agency Spake Media House. Named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the “Top 50 Tweeters” on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning. Kevin has been involved in the public policy arena in both the United States and Canada for more than a decade. For five years he was the managing editor of DeSmogBlog.com. In this role, Kevin’s research into the “climate denial industry” and the right-wing think tank networks was featured in news media articles around the world. He is most well known for his ground-breaking research into David and Charles Koch’s massive financial investments in the Republican and tea party networks. Kevin is the first person to be designated a “Certified Expert” on the political and community organizing platform NationBuilder. Prior to DeSmog, Kevin worked in various political and government roles. He was Senior Advisor to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Asia Pacific, Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada. Kevin also worked in various roles in the British Columbia provincial government in the Office of the Premier and the Ministry of Health. In 2008 Kevin co-founded a groundbreaking new online election tool called Vote for Environment which was later nominated for a World Summit Award in recognition of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications. Kevin moved to Washington, DC in 2010 where he worked for two years as the Director of Online Strategy for Greenpeace USA and has since returned to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

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