Southern Company spent millions on climate denial ads despite knowing the truth

Atlanta, Georgia - A utility company dropped millions on denial campaigns to delay climate action, even after they found out one crucial fact about fossil fuels.

Fossil fuel use has continued despite strong evidence showing that it is the root of the climate crisis.
Fossil fuel use has continued despite strong evidence showing that it is the root of the climate crisis.  © REUTERS

Southern Company paid a total of $62 million to ad companies who run climate denial advertising and climate misinformation campaigns, despite knowing for decades that climate change is a threat, according to a report seen by the Guardian.

In 1980, a report was sent to major fossil fuel utilities, including Southern Company, explaining the risks of burning fossil fuels.

It warned that continuing to pollute the environment with greenhouse gases would ramp up climate change that would cause mass extinction and destructive sea-level rise.

Southern Company doubles down

Southern Company not only ignored these warnings, it decided to double down and fuel a growing wave of ads sowing doubt about climate science.

One ad from 1991, seen by Climate Files, says: "Who told you the Earth was warming... Chicken Little?"

Meanwhile, the utility company ranks third in the US for greenhouse gas emissions, and as recently as 2017, its CEO Tom Fanning told CNN that he didn't think CO2 was a cause of global warming.

Companies like Southern Company have known about the damage fossil fuel use causes, but instead of taking steps to switch to renewable energy, they've spent millions of dollars on lies about the climate crisis. This is why lawsuits like the one launched against Exxon in Massachusetts are so important.

The state's supreme court recently ruled that the oil and gas giant will have to stand trial for decades of climate misinformation.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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