Efforts to stop companies from spreading misinformation in Canada about their impact on the climate and environment appear to be taking hold.

The Pathways Alliance, a coalition of Canada's six largest fossil fuel producers, scrubbed its website and social media channels on Wednesday. All that remained was a terse statement blaming the decision on Bill C-59, which amends Canada's Competition Act to require companies to back up environmental claims.

The decision is a "potential watershed moment for corporate accountability in Canada," and "demonstrates the far-reaching impact of this modest provision requiring truth in advertising even before its passage," said Leah Temper, health and economic policy program director at the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

"It's a Wild West out there," she said. "Companies are essentially making any green claim that they want with complete impunity."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that disinformation on climate and environmental issues poses one of the greatest threats to implementing climate rules strong enough to prevent the crisis from worsening.

Prior to the new law, Pathways Alliance and several other groups were already under investigation by the Competition Bureau, but those aren't the only efforts to curb climate disinformation and greenwashing. Environmental groups and politicians have been complaining to the Competition Bureau for years, filing lawsuits and proposing new legislation for over two years to tackle the problem.

If you can't keep track of these myriad efforts, here are the major ones:

  • In February, NDP MP Charlie Angus tabled a federal private members bill that would ban misleading fossil fuel advertising, similar to restrictions on tobacco advertising implemented in the 1990s. Almost immediately after Angus tabled the bill – C-372 – he received an onslaught of hate and death threats, which he says intensified when the Conservative Party of Canada launched an online petition attacking the bill.

The Pathways Alliance, a coalition of Canada's six largest fossil fuel producers, scrubbed its website and social media channels on Wednesday. All that remained was a terse statement blaming the decision on Bill C-59.
  • The B.C. Greens tabled their own anti-greenwashing bill in the B.C. legislature in April. The ruling NDP government says it is reviewing the bill. If passed, the law would prevent businesses from making misleading statements in advertising materials, about greenhouse gas emissions associated with their practices. It would also target claims about the effectiveness of their climate efforts and require them to back their sustainability claims on a public website. Corporations that fail to adhere to the measures could face fines of up to $1 million per day if the false representation continues to be published.

  • The federal Competition Bureau is currently conducting several investigations into greenwashing by resource extraction companies and industry groups. These include examining the Pathways Alliance's net zero claims, assessing "low-carbon" claims by Enbridge and considering accusations that the Canadian Gas Association has misled consumers about the climate and health impacts of natural gas.

  • In March, a coalition of B.C. residents and environmental groups sued FortisBC, the province's gas utility, for allegedly greenwashing its gas products and misleading consumers about the fuel's climate impact and affordability. The lawsuit is the first of its kind in Canada.

  • Last month, Canada's National Observer reported on a leaked document that showed the industry organization that regulates advertisements in Canada, Ad Standards, had ruled against pro-oil-and-gas group Canada Action's ads promoting liquified natural gas. (Its rulings are not made public.) The ads had "distorted the true meaning of statements made by professionals or scientific authorities" and created an "overall misleading impression" that LNG is climate-friendly, the body found.

However, Ad Standards does not have any enforcement powers, and in the wake of the leak, clarified Canada Action could appeal the decision and the final determination would remain confidential.

The decision by Pathways Alliance to scrub its website could be a sign that efforts to crack down on greenwashing are working, Temper said. It is a shift that is needed – and fast.

"Important decisions about our energy futures are being taken every day," she said. "And greenwashing is obviously designed to undermine this energy transition."

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This is a major victory over the greenwashing by the gangster fossil fuel industry spreading disinformation, but the damage has been done. The groups of climate deniers, right-wing nutbars and the fossil fuel industry will only push this as a freedom of speech suppression as most will believe whatever conspiracy nonsense they are into currently.

It's great that Bill C-59 goes beyond the fossil fuel industry, to what MP Charlie Angus proposed in C-372. It's unfortunate that he had to deal with the hate and threats from nutbars on social media or email in the process. Of course, not surprising that conservatives attacked the bill, given the fossil fuel gangsters have the party in their pocket.

One can't wait to see the nutbar propaganda spewed on social media and by all the 3rd party propaganda groups Pierre Poilievre utilizes to spread his disinformation. Yes Pierre, it is no secret that you use 3rd party social media sites to spread your garbage to Canadians, despite your denials.

Anyways, a great step forward on the greenwashing war and how many other claims will disappear off of company websites that have nothing to back up their claims.

Great points, thx

Guilty as charged. The unfortunate thing is Premier Smith in Alberta supporting the greenwashing and doing her best to gaslight Albertans and Canadians about fossil fuels. Isn't our political leadership just wonderful in their plan to greenwash their politics