Clean Coal: The Battle of the Marketers

clean coal marketing With every great greenwashing campaign comes an equally fascinating anti-greenwashing campaign.

I have to credit the person who came up with the label “clean coal” because (while as of yet it’s a complete oxymoron) it says it all in the name, right? It’s coal, BUT it’s clean. As the Coen brothers explain in their fake ad, “Clean coal harnesses the awesome power of the word ‘Clean'”

America’s energy companies and watchdog organizations alike are having a field day with this one. Americans are seeing everything from “Factuality” to “Reality” grace their TV and computer screens.

What the environmentalists say: Coal is considered “clean” when its CO2 emissions are captured, transported, and stored properly. The U.S. coal industry is spending millions on ads for “clean” coal, but there is not a single “clean” coal power plant in operation or under construction. What we do have is 600 coal-fired power plants spewing out 32% of U.S. CO2 emissions each year.

From the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity: With the right investments in technology, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make the science of climate change irrelevant. If we continue to fight about the science, we’re going to be sitting here 20 years from now still arguing about it.

I hear you, coal companies. And I agree: who needs science when you have marketing?

Audrey is a freelance copywriter. She has worked with every kind of company, helping them to communicate their message of sustainability. Careful to never greenwash, Audrey believes that transparency in marketing is just as important as branding. And that doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive. When she's not blogging, marketing sustainability or writing radio commercials for Chinese food, you can find Audrey rock-climbing, riding her bike around San Francisco, or looking for work (she's available for hire, call now!)