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Don't Nuke the Climate: Help EDF win the Pinocchio greenwashing award

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Organised by Friends of the Earth France, in partnership with the CRID and Peuples Solidaires-Action Aid France, the Pinocchio Awards highlight the negative impacts of multinational companies – either through lobbying tactics at a policy level, or directly at a community level – and especially those that indulge in greenwashing.

This year, as Paris hosts the international climate talks (COP21), the Pinocchio Climate Awards joins forces with the Worst Lobby Awards, from Friends of the Earth Europe and Corporate Europe Observatory to bring a special edition: the Pinocchio Climate Awards.

This year's awards will target multinationals whose activities have a direct impact on the climate and communities around the world, and whose influence, through lobbying, promoting false solutions or greenwashing weakens or destroys climate policies, or undermines action on climate change.

The three worst companies, across three categories, are chosen through an online public vote, and presented with the award at a public awards ceremony.

The French energy company EDF is one of the nominees … so get voting! Online voting started on November 3 and will be open until December 2. The awards will be presented at a public awards ceremony on December 3.

EDF is using its controversial sponsorship of the COP21 climate talks to launch a large-scale greenwashing campaign to brand nuclear power as a 'carbon-free' and 'clean' energy source. EDF presents itself as 'the official partner of a low-carbon world'. The company is planning a series of conferences and symposia to promote the 'role of electricity in decarbonising the world'. It is also funding a 'call for projects' for non-profit organisations with green projects with a positive impact for the climate.1

However EDF is not planning to shed any of its considerable global investments in coal and other fossil fuels, nor is it preparing any significant strategic shift towards energy efficiency or renewables. Its main concern is propping up its increasingly compromised nuclear business. EDF, 84% owned by the French state, is strong on nuclear and fossil energy, but weak on renewables.

On its website EDF claims that 87% of the electricity it produces in the world is 'CO2-free'.2 In France, according to EDF, the figure is 98%. But that is not because the company is a pioneer of green energy. Renewable energy sources are still very marginal in its global electricity mix, at about 2%. In France, it is only 0.2% (excluding large dams). The main basis for EDF's claim is its huge stake in nuclear power, of which it is the top global producer, with plants in France, the UK, the US, Belgium and China.

EDF runs a fleet of 16 coal power plants globally, including some of the dirtiest in Europe. In 2013, it was rated among the top 20 global multinational emitters of greenhouse gases.3

After a complaint made by the French antinuclear network Sortir du nucléaire and some local groups, an official advertising ethics body in France recently issued a damning opinion on a public advertising campaign launched by EDF in Alsace, the French region where the company is fighting against the planned closure of its 37 years old Fessenheim nuclear plant, the oldest in France. The adverts said that the electricity provided by EDF in Alsace was '100% without CO2 emissions' – which the ethics body found was deliberately misleading consumers about the true nature of nuclear energy and its environmental impacts.4

Sortir du nucléaire and its partners have now lodged a second complaint, taking aim at EDF's claim that it is providing 98% carbon-free electricity in France. The hearing will take place on 11 December 2015, and then the ethics body will have two weeks to rule on the complaint.5

So what does EDF really want? In France, its current agenda is to extend the lifetime of its existing plants – most of them approaching 40 years old and plagued with recurring safety issues. This could cost up to one hundred billion euros. That money should be invested in building the long-term sustainable energy system that France needs. That's no pipedream: a 2015 report by ADEME, a French government agency under the Ministries of Ecology and Research, shows that 100% renewable electricity supply by 2050 in France is feasible and affordable.6

Between its huge stakes in fossil fuels and its investment in false solutions such as nuclear, EDF can hardly claim to be an official partner of a "low-carbon world". If it had its way, France and the world would remain stuck in a future of climate chaos, nuclear risk and escalating energy costs.

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3. Thomson Reuters:



6. Terje Osmundsen, 20 April 2015,

L'Agence de l'Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l'Energie (ADEME), 2015, 'Vers un mix électrique 100% renouvelable en 2050',