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April 14, 2021

NGOs Claim Chevron Misled Consumers on Climate Action in Violation of FTC Green Guides

The ACTA Group

On March 16, 2021, Earthworks, Global Witness, and Greenpeace USA jointly filed a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint against Chevron for “unlawfully deceptive advertisements which overstate investment in renewable energy and its commitment to reducing fossil fuel pollution.”  According to Earthworks’ March 16, 2021, press release, the complaint claims that Chevron “is consistently misrepresenting its image to appear climate-friendly and racial justice-oriented, while its business operations overwhelmingly rely on climate-polluting fossil fuels, which disproportionately harm communities of color.”  The press release notes that the complaint is the first to petition FTC to use its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (Green Guides) against a fossil fuel company for misleading consumers on the climate and environmental impact of its operations.  According to Earthworks, Chevron violated the Green Guides through its paid social media promotions, TV advertisements, and other digital ads that include claims that:

  • Imply that Chevron’s business operations “do not harm (and even help) the environment, despite numerous environmental disasters”;
  • Chevron “produces ‘ever-cleaner’ or ‘clean’ energy, while spending less than 0.2% of it[]s capital expenditures on renewable energy sources”;
  • Misrepresent the benefits of biomethane or “renewable natural gas”; and
  • Mislead consumers with “deceptive jargon such as ‘reducing emissions intensity’ while continuing to increase overall oil and gas extraction and production.”

According to Earthworks, a March 10, 2021, “Climate Change Resilience” report published by Chevron “doubled down on many of the same greenwashing tactics the company has relied on to mislead consumers for years.”  The complaint requests that Chevron remove the misleading marketing claims and disseminate corrective statements, and that FTC assess appropriate relief according to the law.  More information on the Green Guides, which were updated in 2012, is available in our October 3, 2012, memorandum, “FTC Releases Revised Green Guides.”