NEW YORK Dec 3 A political action group that
bombarded media around the world with false reports of U.S.
businesses pledging a major cut in greenhouse gas emissions
said its motivation was to get big companies to take greater
action on climate issues.
Greenwash Guerrillas, a loose-knit group of students and
workers for nonprofit organizations, posed as phony public
relations officials and targeted energy reporters around the
world on Monday with e-mails and telephone calls.
They claimed that a legitimate group of 33 businesses and
environmental groups, the United States Climate Action
Partnership, had agreed to slash emissions, blamed for warming
the earth, by 90 percent by 2050 and had called for a
moratorium on new coal plants.
U.S. CAP includes oil majors ConocoPhillips (COP.N), Shell
Oil (RDSa.L) and automaker General Motors Corp (GM.N).
The release said that U.S. CAP was hoping to encourage
decisive action in Bali, Indonesia, where delegates from about
190 countries are meeting to try to work out a broad long-term
pact to fight climate change.
"We wanted to draw attention to U.S. CAP's influence and
hold them to taking real action on climate," Brian Jones, a
spokesman for the tricksters who operated from Britain, Canada,
Australia and the United States, said in an interview.
The group backed up their press releases by setting up Web
sites for a phony public relations company and another claiming
to be the new U.S. CAP site, using its official logo.
U.S. CAP businesses and environmental groups said the press
release and pledge were "fraudulent."
In fact, at least one U.S. CAP member, Duke Energy Corp
(DUK.N), is hoping to build coal plants in the United States,
and the group has pressured the U.S. government to cut
greenhouse gas emissions by only 60 to 80 percent by 2050.
News outlets including The Dallas Morning News BLC.N and
the New Zealand Herald put the story on their Web sites on
Monday, along with the false claims. A source at the Dallas
paper confirmed that the site had been duped. The New Zealand
paper could not be reached immediately.
"We really hope their editors do not hold them responsible
for what was a political action," Jones said about reporters
that had been fooled by the hoax.
Katie Mandes, a spokeswoman for the Pew Center on Climate
Change, a member of U.S. CAP, said, "We're taking the view that
imitation is the highest form of flattery."
She said the group was looking into the legality of the
hoaxsters' copying U.S. CAP's logo.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Robert MacMillan; Editing by