No real surprise. Via The Guardian:
The multinational mining giant Glencore spent millions bankrolling a secret, globally coordinated campaign to prop up coal demand by undermining environmental activists, influencing politicians and spreading sophisticated pro-coal messaging on social media.
An investigation by Guardian Australia can reveal the covert campaign, dubbed “Project Caesar”, was orchestrated by world-renowned political operatives at the C|T Group, the firm founded by Sir Lynton Crosby and Mark Textor.
The C|T Group used teams in Sydney and London to further Glencore’s interests across the globe, including in Australia, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the project and documents seen by Guardian Australia.
Project Caesar began in early 2017 with an annual warchest of between £4m and £7m. Glencore has confirmed the project’s existence but said it moved to shut it down last month to “ensure alignment” with its recent decision to limit coal production for environmental reasons.
The campaign aimed to engage key politicians, both to gauge their views on coal and attempt to convince them of its continuing value.Intelligence was collected about key coal detractors, including Greenpeace and 350.org, detailing their budgets, social media reach, and issues that could be used to embarrass or undermine them.
A sophisticated digital campaign was mounted to help shift public sentiment towards coal, using messaging informed by research, focus groups and polling conducted in multiple countries.
Campaign teams helped set up online grassroots groups to push positive messaging about clean coal technology, attack renewables and criticise the Australian Labor party. The practice is commonly known as astroturfing.
One source with knowledge of Project Caesar said it was linked to Energy in Australia, a Facebook group and website that attacks renewables, while supporting high efficiency, low emissions (Hele) coal plants through data, memes, graphics and video.
Other posts warn of widespread blackouts due to the planned closure of theLiddell power plant in NSW, and tell followers that wind turbines are “desecrating our Diggers’ graves” in France, using photoshopped imagery of wind farms towering over an Anzac memorial. The wind farm, which was only in planning stages at the time, never went ahead.
Project Caesar also had a significant traditional media component, seeking to amplify and spread pro-coal voices and messaging in mainstream media sources.
The campaign contrasts with Glencore’s more recent statement that it would cap global coal output, in part due to investor pressure to act on climate change.
It also potentially contrasted with the aims of another C|T Group client, the Liberal party, whose then leader Malcolm Turnbull was attempting to forge ahead with new reliability and emissions reduction guarantees, which would have reduced Australia’s reliance on coal.
At least one group was listening, at The Australian:
Six Queensland Nationals MPs have reignited the Coalition’s civil war on energy policy, demanding that Scott Morrison put his shelved “big stick” laws to a vote in budget week and fast-track a decision on the underwriting of a new cleaner coal plant.
The energy rebels have signed a letter to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, challenging his authority with written demands calling for “immediate” action to address “unsustainable Queensland electricity costs”, after he failed to avert the deferral of the legislation to bring energy companies to heel.
Sooty fingerprints all over.