Edelman walks away from climate change deniers, coal producers

The world's largest PR firm told The Guardian on Tuesday that it has decided to cut ties with groups that produce coal or work to counter climate-change action.

Edelman has reportedly decided to stop working with clients that produce coal or deny climate change in an effort to protect its own reputation.

The decision comes a year after the agency was criticized for a middle-of-the-road response to surveys from the Climate Investigations Center and The Guardian about whether it would work with groups that challenge climate change.

Coal-producing and climate-change-denying clients, as well as groups against taking action on global warming, will no longer be on Edelman’s account roster, according to an internal memo obtained by The Guardian.

"On climate denial and coal, those are where we just said this is absolutely a no-go area," Michael Stewart, president and CEO of Edelman Europe, told the Guardian.

In an email to the agency’s global management team in July, Edelman COO Matthew Harrington wrote, "When it comes to determining our client assignments, the only issue that experts repeatedly advised Edelman to stay away from was climate change deniers/denial and related activities," according to The Guardian.

When PRWeek reached out to Edelman about the changes, a spokesperson said via email, "Our comment on those issues appeared in The Guardian article. We are not commenting further."

Last August, Edelman was the subject of critical reports by The Guardian and Vice’s Motherboard blog for what they saw as a milquetoast response to a survey about representing groups that deny climate change. Ten other major PR firms said they would not work with such organizations.

Global CEO Richard Edelman was quoted in a separate Motherboard post as saying the firm fired former US CEO Mark Hass in part because of the way he responded to the investigation about PR agencies’ work with climate-change deniers.  

Edelman wrote on his 6 am blog at the time that his firm "recognizes the reality of climate change and accepts the science behind the claim."

"We do not accept clients that seek to deny climate change," he continued, citing agency work supporting environmental groups and those working to cut carbon emissions.

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