Billboard shows a pair of glasses superimposed on an image of a beach. Around the glasses the beach is covered in plastic waste; through the lenses of the glasses the beach is pristine.

Campaign Launched to Fight Climate Hypocrisy

Targeting businesses and government for climate hypocrisy, XR Bristol yesterday launched their latest campaign, Greenwash-free Bristol. 

The campaign, whose name refers to the practice of businesses and governments portraying themselves as caring for the planet whilst knowingly destroying it uses billboard advertisements, performances and other actions to expose those organisations which XR claim are the worst greenwashing offenders in the city.

Dr Claire Gronow, a member of XR Bristol and a Lecturer in Environmental Management at the University of Bristol, said that the public want to take action on the climate crisis but dishonesty and hypocrisy from politicians and the media put up barriers by making it impossible to know what’s ‘right and true’. 

She said: ‘It is clear that some high carbon emitting businesses and their financial backers are using smoke and mirrors to hide the fact that they are not moving fast enough to reduce emissions. Outwardly they promote elements of “green” or “sustainable” business practices when in reality they are carrying on business as usual and this is ultimately putting people’s lives in peril.’

Yesterday (Saturday, February 26) the group fly-posted across the city. They also had a stall in Broadmead from where they engaged with the public about the climate crisis and issues of greenwashing. XR’s Greenwash Busters performance group were present and entertained the public. 

The main action came in the afternoon when a small group hijacked a series of run down billboards outside the Paintworks on the Bath Road and put up their own posters instead. Designed specially for the campaign the billboard designs show the world as seen through greenwash glasses. 

One person up a tall ladder
Activists lay the final sections of a billboard poster next to the Bath Road. Image: James Ward.

Targets of the new campaign include Bristol Airport, which has recently been given a green light to expand from 10mn to 12mn passengers per year. Campaigners accuse the airport owners of greenwashing the impact the expansion will have on the climate by promoting technological solutions that don’t yet exist and the much criticised practice of carbon offsetting. 

Another target is Barclays bank, which has been the focus of many XR actions in the past due to its dubious ranking as Europe’s largest financier of fossil fuel extraction. One action in October involving dinosaurs resulted in the branch being closed by staff. 

It was recently revealed that Barclays is one of several European banks to have given £24bn to oil and gas companies, inducing Shell, BP and Saudi Aramco, despite Barclays’ pledge to become a net zero bank by 2050. 

In a separate action earlier this month, activists from XR Youth targeting the University of Bristol for their links with the defence industry by spray-painting the word “greenwashed” on the wall of the main University administrative building.

Four people in white overalls and a banner reading "#Greenwash-Free Bristol"
XR’s “Greenwash Busters” outside Barclays bank in Broadmead yesterday entertaining the public. Image: Richard Baxter.

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