Top PR firms have played a significant and overlooked role in denying and obfuscating the science of climate change while bolstering the reputations of major polluters, a peer-reviewed study in Climatic Change reveals. Researchers analyzed more than 2,800 “unique engagements” between PR firms and entities within five groups: the coal, steel and rail sector; the oil and gas industry; the electric utility sector; the renewable energy industry; and the environmental movement. Utilities and the oil and gas sector hired PR firms the most, and the environmental movement hired PR firms the least.

While the fossil fuel industry’s denial of climate science, efforts to shift responsibility for climate change to consumers, and obstruction of action to address climate change are well documented, “PR people become these kinds of glue or network builders among all of these different industries, and so their power is outsize[d] in that way,” Melissa Aronczyk, a media studies professor at Rutgers University, told E&E. “How else would these different industries kind of speak to each other?”

“The fossil fuel industry’s obstruction of climate action goes beyond misinformation and climate denial. A major part of the effort to obstruct climate action involves enhancing the positive public reputation for the fossil fuel companies and emphasizing the benefits of continued fossil fuel use,” Robert Brulle, visiting professor at Brown University and co-author on the article, told DeSmog. “From the severity of climate impacts to policies to address the problem, PR firms are a big part of the corporate propaganda machinery that guides the way Americans think about the issue.” (E&E $)(DeSmog)