UK Ruling Confirms Peabody’s Right to Speak on Energy Poverty Issues
Editor’s note: This article was originally published to the ACC’s online magazine website (www.acclive.com) in October, 2014. It has been moved to the Coalblog as part of our redesign of our online publications.
A recent Bloomberg news piece attempted to paint a UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling as a setback for energy producer Peabody Energy. However, when one takes a moment to read the full article, it is clear that Peabody won a clear and convincing victory in this case.
A complaint from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) asserted that Peabody’s recent “Advanced Energy for Life” advertisement, which referred to “today’s advanced clean coal technologies” was misleading. In it’s ruling on the complaint, the ASA ruling claimed that “consumers were likely to interpret the advertisement as a claim that ‘clean coal’ processes don’t produce carbon dioxide or other emissions.” The ASA ruling required that the advertisement be changed before it could be run again.
ASA’s overwrought fears about the intelligence of UK readers notwithstanding, Peabody was able to silence WWF claims of an environmental victory by simply adding a footnote to the advertisement and re-releasing it to the public. The new footnote explains how the term “clean coal” was first used by the U.S. Congress and that both Japan and China recognize clean coal technologies as key aspects of their overall energy strategies. The footnote also states that clean coal technologies “reduce key power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and mercury, and that they are in broad use globally and are commercially available,” thereby addressing both the ASA and WWF’s concerns.
But that wasn’t the end of Peabody’s victory in this case. The ASA’s ruling wholly rejected WWF’s other two complaints that Peabody’s claim that “energy poverty … (is) the world’s number one human and environmental crisis” and that Peabody somehow ignored the environmental impacts of using coal.
While WWF marketing staff attempted to paint the ASA ruling one the first complaint as a victory, the reality is that, with the minor change to their ad, Peabody was better able to educate billions of readers about the key role of clean coal technologies in providing affordable, abundant, reliable, and cleaner energy to the world. The ASA ruling also upheld Peabody’s right to explain to the public the damage caused by unreliable access to electricity and the essential role that coal plays in providing clean, modern electricity that improves the quality and longevity of lives of billions of people across the planet.
Any way that you look at this ASA ruling, it was a clear victory for Peabody’s efforts to get balanced and accurate information on coal-fueled energy out to the world.
Kudos to Peabody for their work in this area. Click here to download the full advertisement.