The Daily Express removed an article quoting a prominent climate science denier, after an energy company that claims to sell power that is “good for the planet” and “good for your soul” said it was reviewing whether to remove its advertising from the website.
The article was published on Thursday under the headline “Greta Thunberg’s ‘expertise’ dismantled before backlash over BBC documentary”. It quoted climate science denier Naomi Seibt criticising the BBC’s decision to show Thunberg’s new documentary.
Seibt was a member of The Heartland Institute, a climate science denial group from the United States that has received funding from ExxonMobil and Koch family foundations — organisations infamous for their financial support to groups that spread misinformation on climate change.
Her views contrast with Octopus Energy’s ethos of making “the eco‐friendly choice the easy choice” by offering 100 percent green electricity across all its tariffs.
Stop Funding Heat, which campaigns for advertisers to stop funding climate science denial, tweeted Octopus Energy alerting them to their advert, asking: “Is this really a message that @Octopus_Energy wants to endorse?”
The energy company replied saying: “We’d never deliberately choose to advertise here, but can always add sites to our exclusions list when someone flags this up to us.” It said the company’s “digital team are checking this out right now”.
Hi, thanks for flagging – our digital team are checking this out right now. We’d never deliberately choose to advertise here, but can always add sites to our exclusions list when someone flags this up to us. Read more about how our digital ads work here: https://t.co/IZChhyYBmR
— Octopus Energy (@octopus_energy) February 19, 2021
Sean Buchan, campaigner at Stop Funding Heat, explained that the advert could have appeared without the company knowing. He told DeSmog: “A big problem with online advertising right now is most advertisers don’t really know what their ads will appear next to, while most websites don’t know which specific adverts will show up on their pages. So a company like Octopus Energy appearing next to an article bashing Greta Thunberg is not unusual.”
“Many will have welcomed the Daily Express’s recent commitment to report more responsibly on climate change. But this article made a mockery of that promise – and many advertisers will doubtless be taking note,” he added.
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He said the issue was easy for the company to rectify: “For Octopus, this represents a risk to their brand, and so once we notified them their action was swift. All they have to do is press a button to exclude the Daily Express from their online advertising and remove the danger of this happening again.”
“This form of activism is really effective – it happens in real time and highlights those companies who really care about issues like climate change – and those that don’t.”
Octopus Energy did not confirm whether it had taken the decision to add the Daily Express to its exclusion list.
The Daily Express recently launched a new green campaign, Green Britain Needs You, calling on the Government to scrap VAT on green products and protect natural spaces to preserve habitats. The article quoting Seibt was quickly removed once the newspaper’s Editor became aware of its content.
Gary Jones, editor-in-chief of the Daily Express told DeSmog: “As soon as I became aware of these stories I removed them as they fail to reflect our direction of travel in pursuing a greener, environmentally friendly agenda. The Express is committed to promoting green issues and reporting on developments in the ongoing battle to combat climate change, and bring real, sustainable change to the way we all lead our lives.”
“I am absolutely determined to report positively on efforts not only to make Britain greener, but to look at the global picture which impacts on us all.”