Deny, Deceive, Delay: Documenting and Responding to Climate Disinformation at COP26 and Beyond

A new report released Thursday by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) and the 20+ member coalition Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD) documents the extent and diverse nature of climate disinformation during last year’s international climate conference in Glasgow, COP26. The report, the most comprehensive of its type to date, offers seven key policy recommendations to stop disinformation from jeopardizing future climate action and policy-making.

Across social media, high-traction disinformation was found to originate primarily from a select number of pundits and political actors, who merge climate and “Culture Wars” narratives to violate multiple content moderation policies in tandem. Twitter carried the most false content by volume, while Facebook’s algorithm drove greater exposure to climate disinformation than its own Climate Science Center, and its fact-checking policies remain woefully under-enforced. 

Based on the narratives and tactics identified by CAAD’s bespoke monitoring system, the coalition recommends that policymakers formally recognize the threat, adopt a universal definition of climate disinformation and limit loopholes for traditional media outlets in tech regulation such as the EU’s Digital Services Act – all of which will help mitigate the risk that false or misleading content hinders climate negotiations and legislative agendas at this critical juncture.

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