Oil and gas company guilty of greenwashing

4 July 2008

OMV advertising claim ruled misleading

Brussels, 4 July 2008 - A claim by the Austrian oil and gas company OMV that it is "securing Europe's future energy supply..." in an advert published in the European Voice newspaper has been ruled misleading by the Belgian advertising standards authority.

The Jury d'Ethique Publicitaire (JEP) has instructed OMV to correct the advertisement entitled: "Who is investing in sustainable oil and gas projects?". The verdict follows a complaint filed by Friends of the Earth Europe and Global 2000 (Friends of the Earth Austria) and an appeal.[1]

In the advertisement OMV claimed to be, "securing Europe's future energy supply by extending our highly diversified worldwide E&P portfolio and by investing in the OMV Future Energy Fund". The company says this fund is used to secure the production of energy from renewable sources, but according to its own data the amount provided for this fund in 2007 was just 2.5 per cent of its total investment expenditure.[2]

Darek Urbaniak, extractive industry campaign coordinator at Friends of the Earth Europe said: "The extraction and utilisation of natural resources such as oil and gas is not sustainable and it's right that an advert claiming it is should be ruled misleading. The burning of fossil fuels has serious environmental consequences and OMV is just one example in a long list of energy companies which have started to falsely paint themselves as green. Advertising authorities must clamp down on this type of greenwashing."

Klaus Kastenhofer, Director of Global 2000 said: "With such a negligible percentage of its total investment going into the production of energy from renewable sources, OMV is clearly not securing Europe's future energy supply. Instead of misleading the European public, the company should make real efforts to produce energy from renewable sources."

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Notes:
[1] More information about the complaint

[2] In 2007, the total amount of investments made by OMV topped EUR 3,737 billion, of which EUR 100 millions was in renewable energy. See OMV Future Energy Fund, OMV Corporate Social Responsibility Performance Report 2005/06, page 16 and OMV Annual Report 2007, page 59.