Kate Sheppard Posted: 03/27/2014 6:23 pm EDT Updated: 03/28/2014 10:59 pm EDT
WASHINGTON -– Peabody Energy Corp., the world’s largest private-sector coal company, launched a public relations and advertising campaign last month extolling the virtues of coal energy for poor people.
A Peabody press release announcing the campaign, called Advanced Energy for Life, argues that lack of access to energy is “the world’s number one human and environmental crisis.”
To enter the campaign website, readers encounter a drop-in screen that asks them to agree or disagree with the statement, “Access to low-cost energy improves our lives.” The site notes that there are 3.5 billion people in the world “without adequate energy” — 1.2 billion of them children. A video titled “Energy Poverty” features babies and small children, with text that implores, “We can solve this crisis.” It adds: “Affordable energy leads to better health.”
Peabody’s proposal to solve this crisis? Asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop setting pollution limits on coal-fired power plants. Those pollution rules are meant to address climate change caused by greenhouse-gas emissions, a global problem that has the greatest effect on poor countries. Burning coal generates carbon emissions as well as hazardous pollutants such as mercury, lead, and benzene, according to the American Lung Association.
Burson-Marsteller, the world’s largest PR firm, and its subsidiary, Proof Integrated Communications, are working behind the scenes on Peabody’s PR effort. Burson-Marsteller spokesman Paul Cordasco confirmed to The Huffington Post that the company is working on behalf of Peabody. Peabody spokeswoman Beth Sutton said “Burson-Marsteller and several other firms are providing support for the campaign.”
Sutton said the campaign “will be sustained long term” and “is aimed at changing the global conversation to focus on energy poverty.”
Global Climate Change