1. October 2020

RWE, greenwashing and the role of journalists

There is currently a lively debate about the role of the media in the climate crisis. At the same time there is a new greenwashing campaign with which RWE wants to show how sustainable they are.

What does these topics have to do with each other?

The majority of RWE’s electricity generation still comes from fossil fuels. The following figure shows RWE’s energy mix in 2019:


The high proportion of fossil fuels seems to be embarrassing for RWE itself. At least they gloss over their own figures in their social media presence. (Note the pie chart and the real numbers 🤯)


The self-proclaimed rise to a “green company” is not due to building more wind turbines or solar panels, but simply to buying up the Eon subsidiary Innogy.

In fact, the climate balance is so devastating that the NGO Urgewald awarded RWE the inglorious title of “Europe’s biggest climate killer”: Three of the TOP 5 most climate-damaging power stations in Europe belong to RWE.


RWE also has no scruples when it comes to destroying villages. Lützerath is to be demolished this year in order to get new lignite from the Garzweiler open-cast mine.

The energy giant does this without it being necessary from an energy-economics perspective! This is the conclusion of a study by Greenpeace that deals with Garzweiler.


So while “Ende Gelände” occupies the RWE coal mines, the company conducts a shameless PR campaign without really doing anything for climate protection and still collects millions of tax money through the “Coal Entry Law”.

— CUT —

25 September 2020, Day of the Global Climate Strike: The ZEIT publishes an almost apocalyptic graph showing how the world would look like if the temperature rises by 4 degrees, currently not an unlikely scenario (everything that is orange or black will be uninhabitable at 4 degrees centigrade hotter).

At the same time the Zeit newspaper offers RWE a huge stage for greenwashing. How do you account for that, dear Zeit?


Because if all companies did business like RWE, the earth would heat up by 13.8 degrees. 13.8 GRAD!!! This is the conclusion of a report by the consulting firm Right.
And the PR strategy of RWE really has audacity: Also in the sustainability booklet of the PlusDreiMagazin of the Süddeutsche newspaper, RWE was able to successfully place ads.

Does it really have to be like this?

No. The TAZ shows that things can be done better. On 25 September 2020, RWE wanted to place an advertisement celebrating its role as a pioneer in renewable energies. Ironically, the edition was produced by Climate activists. (You have to have that much brazenness first…).

This was prevented after long discussions and only by the commitment of the Aktivists!

Even the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper (FAZ) calls this ’embarrassing eco-propaganda’.

The Guardian shows that things can still be done MUCH BETTER. It decided to ban advertising of fossil companies from now on! This is how vision works!

In addition, the language was adapted to the real threat (e.g. global heating instead of global warming, climate crisis instead of climate change). In the meantime, the TAZ newspaper has followed in Germany.

On 7 September 2020, the journalist Sara Schurmann published an open letter in which she called on the media to report better on the climate crisis. Many colleagues signed it. This is a beginning that we would like to support.

Dear Media, don’t give yourself up for greenwashing campaigns! Report better and avoid false balance. Do not take money from future killers. We have no more time!

Dear Media, don’t give yourself up for greenwashing campaigns! Report better and avoid false balance. Do not take money from future killers. We have no more time!

In Frankfurt Greenwashing was corrected by activists. Next time it is your job!