The Phuket, Thailand and Asia News: features a family dinner scene captioned: “A healthier meal with a healthier gas for you and loved ones.”
The promotion has prompted criticism from some Singapore residents, who objected to the claim that natural gas is environmentally-friendly and healthy.
“As far as greenwash is concerned, this was is one of the most blatant examples I have come across,” commented Tan Hang Chong, a volunteer with civic society group, Nature Society of Singapore on the Facebook advertisement.
Tan included a link to an article by the World Health Organisation, which declares that while LPG is cleaner than other fossil fuels, it still creates greenhouse gases when burnt. He also referred to a story in The Guardian newspaper, which points out that gas stoves can produce indoor air pollution levels that would be illegal outside, making it misleading to promote stove gas as healthy.
SingGas has not responded to Eco-Business’s request for comment.
SingGas’s campaign is running at a time when natural gas is being promoted by fossil fuels interest groups in Southeast Asia as a lower-carbon bridge fuel for the energy transition. Russia, the world’s second largest natural gas producer, promoted gas as “eco-friendly” in a dialogue with Southeast Asian officials last month. Singapore is heavily dependent on natural gas for energy, deriving more than 90 per cent of its power from the fossil fuel, and is a major international base for oil and gas giants including Shell and Exxon Mobil.
Last year, Singapore’s Energy Market Authority was criticised for using children to promote the benefits of natural gas. “To produce electricity, we use natural gas. Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel around. It gives out less carbon dioxide than coal when used for producing electricity,” said one of the children quoted in the advertisement. Assaad Razzouk, the chief executive of renewables firm Gurin Energy, commented: “Seriously, Energy Market Authority? Using kids to greenwash natural gas? Natural gas is just as dirty as coal. Whoever named it Natural Gas instead of “Highly Explosive Climate-Change-Accelerating Fossil Fuel” wins top branding award.”
Singapore, which is a global centre for the oil and gas sector, has no restrictions on fossil fuels advertising, but promoting fossil fuels is coming under growing scrutiny elsewhere. Activist law firm ClientEarth, which opened an office in Singapore earlier this year, is calling for tobacco-style public health warnings on fossil fuels advertising, because of the climate impact of dirty energy.
Last month, oil major Shell was ordered by the Netherlands’ advertising watchdog to stop misleading campaigns that informed consumers that they could offset the carbon emissions from their fuel purchases by paying extra. Meanwhile, activist groups in the advertising industry are putting pressure on agencies to stop working for fossil fuels companies.
Facebook announced in September new efforts to clamp down on climate misinformation. Facebook has long been criticised for allowing misinformation about the climate crisis to proliferate on its platform. Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, admitted in a 2021 April congressional hearing that climate misinformation is “a big issue”.