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.”
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.