Days after Glencore, the largest mining company in the world, announced an annual cap on thermal coal, details of its well-funded pro-coal campaign emerged.
Anti-coal campaigners have demanded reforms to limit the abuse of money politics.
On March 8 The Guardian revealed that Glencore hired the C|T Group to spread pro-coal and anti-renewables messages across supposedly grassroots Facebook groups and other social media platforms, as well as to influence government and traditional media.
Project Caesar, as it was known, was given an estimated £4-7 million annual budget to identify climate justice organisations, including Greenpeace, and smear or undermine them.
Environmental groups have condemned Glencore and called for the lobbyist register to be overhauled to ensure that politicians are forced to disclose meetings and donations in real time.
Head of campaigns for Greenpeace Australia Pacific Jamie Hanson said Project Caesar was another example of Glencore “attempting to sow misinformation about the damage that they’re doing to the environment”.
The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) said Glencore was trying to muddy the science and attack renewable alternatives — all to maintain its profit.
ACF chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy said: “This is about putting private profit ahead of the safety of the community and the viability of our planet.”
She said it should prompt reforms to take lobbying and big money out of politics.
The Guardian revealed that Project Caesar began in early 2017 and continued until mid-February. It was linked to a Facebook group and website with significant reach, named “Energy in Australia”.
The Facebook group pushed professional video and graphics attacking renewables and praising high-efficiency, low-emissions coal power plants to its more than 20,000 followers.
There was no disclosure of the link between the page and Glencore.
“Energy in Australia” was taken offline within days of The Guardian asking the C|T Group and Glencore about its links to Project Caesar.
Glencore has confirmed it paid the C|T Group to run the project, arguing it wanted to counter misinformation spread by environmental activists.