Skip to main content
Projects

Farmers’ protests weaponized to spread climate misinformation, report from Climate Facts Europe project finds

By 03/06/2024No Comments3 min read
Farmers' protests weaponized to spread climate misinformation, report from Climate Facts Europe project finds

Farmers’ protests in several European countries have been weaponized to spread false claims to discredit political action against climate change and fuel deep-seated distrust towards the EU, according to a report on climate disinformation related to the protests by European fact-checking organisations. The report categorises and analyses cross-border false narratives, drawing from fact-checks and debunks from 24 fact-checking organisations across Europe, complimented by other fact-checking sources.

In order to analyse these narratives, claims are categorised into common themes in misinformation. Claims identified were often specifically related to opposing EU climate policies, such as “narratives that falsely accused the EU of promoting lab-grown meat and alleged that governments were deliberately destroying water infrastructure.”

Additionally, the report found that politicians affiliated with the far right were responsible for the majority of social media posts against climate action and the EU in an analysis of most popular posts about the farmers’ protests, based on an analysis of popular social media posts in six languages.

As the 2024 European Parliament Elections approach and new rounds of protests are planned, the report’s findings provide important insights into how misinformation draws focus away from the protestors’ goals and toward false narratives, shaping public opinion. “These inaccuracies did more than just obscure the actual demands of the protesters; they also amplified existing scepticism and suspicion towards the EU and its climate policies,” the report reads.

Report author, Charles Terroille, of Science Feedback said, “With the elections approaching, new protests will present an even greater opportunity for misinformation to erode the integrity of climate dialogue across Europe. Malicious actors and far-right politicians have already successfully tested such narratives; now we must be prepared for their continued use.”

Titled “A Fertile Ground for Disinformation: From Spreading Climate Change Misinformation to Undermining Climate Action: How the Farmers’ Protests Were Used to Influence Audiences”, the report was developed by fact-checking organisations Newtral (Spain) and Science Feedback (France) as part of the Climate Facts Europe project coordinated by the European Fact-Checking Standards Network, which aims to detect and track patterns in misinformation ahead of and following the elections.

This report is the first of four planned to analyse mis- and disinformation identified in the Climate Facts database as part of the Climate Facts Europe project, which will be released about once a month through September in the lead up to and the weeks following the 2024 European Parliament Elections.

Access the database at climatefacts.efcsn.com. Read more about the EFCSN on their website. Follow the EFCSN on X, Threads, and LinkedIn for regular updates about our projects.

Photo by: Lukasz Kobus