Spanish-language climate change misinformation threatens renewable energy progress

These narratives, driven by extreme weather events and disseminated through social media platforms, encompass allegations that wildfires are deliberately ignited to make way for renewable energy projects and that renewable energy has adverse environmental impacts.

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False narratives in the Spanish-language sphere regarding climate change and renewable energy are rising, posing a significant challenge to advancing renewable energy initiatives. A recent study commissioned by environmental organizations GreenLatinos and Friends of the Earth highlights the surge in disinformation and misinformation fueled by extreme weather events and propagated through social media platforms.

Examining 15,000 X platform accounts generating the top 20,000 engaging Spanish-language posts against renewable energy in the first half of the year, it was discovered that these misleading narratives included claims of intentional wildfires for land clearance and allegations of harm to the environment by renewable energy projects.

The study also found that over a third of the Spanish-language accounts promoting misleading information about renewable energy on X exhibited explicit signs of right-wing ideology, conservatism, and support for the Spanish political party Vox. Accounts in Latin American countries, such as Mexico and Argentina, shared similar narratives about renewable energy and climate issues.

This follows a recent ranking by Climate Action Against Disinformation, a coalition of environmental organisations which rated X poorly in addressing climate change misinformation.

Why does it matter?

Social media platforms play a significant role in disseminating and amplifying false information. Earlier this year, a study revealed that Google may have profited from ads promoting climate change misinformation, despite a 2021 policy against it. TikTok, in turn, announced a series of initiatives to combat harmful climate change misinformation in its platform. This marks the second study highlighting the spread of Spanish-language climate conspiracy theories this year, underscoring the issue’s cross-border impact, particularly on Latinos who rely on social media for information.