Global PR firm Edelman, hailed as the world’s biggest, has announced it will no longer represent companies involved with coal production, or climate change deniers.
The Guardian reported that an internal communication outlined the ban, which included “fake front groups that oppose action on global warming”.
Edelman’s move away from fossil fuel producers was based on negative publicity following work for oil lobbyists and pipeline companies.
Edelman Europe CEO Michael Stewart said climate denial and coal were “absolutely a no-go area”, and that the company would take a stand against organisations that spread doubt about climate change and attempted to influence public officials.
“When you are trying in some way to obfuscate the truth or use misinformation and half-truths that is what we would consider getting into the work of greenwashing, and that is something we would never propose or work we would support our client doing,” he said.
“Greenwashing, fake front groups, anything like that is completely inappropriate.”
In a seeming contradiction, the company has not ruled out their representation of companies involved in Arctic drilling or the Alberta Tar Sands, or other oil and gas producers.
“To simply try and carve out carbon production from the overall energy mix in one fell swoop is just not part of the mainstream discourse, and not something we considered,” Stewart said.
“Right now the only categorical exclusion we have is on climate denial and coal.”
It was reported that Edelman chief executive Richard Edelman had personally intervened in the anti-coal action.
Chief operating officer Matthew Harrington outlined in an internal memo that climate change deniers and coal companies represented a threat to Edelman’s reputation, and that the company had been repeatedly advised by consultants to distance from such organisations.
“Given that coal emits the most C02 of any fossil fuel per unit of energy obtained, Richard has made the category decision that we will not work for coal producers going forward,” the memo read.
Last year Edelman was embroiled in a leaking scandal relating to the Keystone XL pipeline, which showed they had advised Energy East to work with third parties to put pressure on the oil producer’s opponents; groups such as Council of Canadians, Equiterre, the David Suzuki Foundation, Avaaz and Ecology Ottowa
Edelman has represented such global giants as Samsung, Newscorp, Red Cross, the government of Saudi Arabia, Starbucks, Vidal Sassoon, Royal Dutch Shell, and the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints.