Edelman, one of the largest public relations firms in the world, has pledged never to work with climate deniers and proudly touts its work on environmental justice campaigns with brands like Tazo Tea.
“Right now the only categorical exclusion we have is on climate denial and coal,” Michael Stewart, then a top Edelman executive, told the Guardian in 2015. “When you are trying in some way to obfuscate the truth or use misinformation and half-truths that is what we would consider getting into the work of greenwashing, and that is something we would never propose or work we would support our client doing.”
But newly released tax filings obtained by BuzzFeed News show that in 2019 the company accepted more than $4 million from the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, a major US oil trade organization that even Shell and BP had recently dumped for its aggressive opposition to popular climate solutions.
AFPM, a trade group that pulled in more than $55 million in revenue in 2019 alone, has aggressively opposed climate action and provided funding to the Heartland Institute, a climate denial group. AFPM has paid Edelman at least $12 million for public relations work from 2017 to 2019, tax filings show.
AFPM has taken some of the most extreme positions among fossil fuel trade groups, including helping create Energy4Us, a group that ran Facebook ads supporting the Trump administration’s rollbacks of national fuel efficiency standards without initially disclosing its ties to the oil and gas industry. The trade group also helped fund a campaign opposing a carbon tax in Washington state.