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Green disinformation stunt fools media

By 2050, major corporations will emit a mere 10 percent of the greenhouse gases they release today. Not.

The U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a high-profile collection of 33 corporations and environmental nonprofits, pledged Monday to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent by 2050, and demanded that no new coal power plants be built.

The only problem with that announcement was that it was a lie.

The story, picked up by the Dallas Morning News and other media outlets, originated from a phony press release issued by environmental activists Rising Tide North America. The trick was timed to coincide with the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Bali, Indonesia.

The exploit aimed to throw egg on the face of USCAP for attempting to seem green without making radical changes. Members of the coalition include BP America, General Electric, and Xerox, as well as the National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Nature Conservancy.

The responsible Rising Tide activists, calling themselves Greenwash Guerillas, built a fake Web site for a public relations company and another site impersonating that of USCAP to complete the illusion. In October they infiltrated the Point Carbon conference to oppose carbon-trading schemes.

These are the latest in a series of digital disinformation pranks that could be a nightmare for reporters on a tight deadline. Not many writers were fooled in this case, however, maybe because media releases about corporate-greening efforts are piling so high in editorial inboxes lately.

In June, Yes Men impostors used videos with 3D animation at Canada's biggest oil convention to unveil Vivoleum, a fake new Exxon oil product made from human flesh.

In January, Greenpeace concocted a video of its own fake Steve Jobs pledging to make Apple products more eco-friendly. That tongue-in-cheek campaign was meant to embarrass Apple without fooling reporters. By May, the real Jobs announced that his company would phase out the use of some toxic chemicals.