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How deep do the fossil fuel funds flow? Straight to the heart of Australia’s most prestigious journalism awards.

The Walkley Awards were actually started by Ampol and named after its boss. Here’s a photo from the inaugural awards in 1956 featuring the then Managing Director of Ampol, William Gaston Walkley.

In the fifties not much was known about petroleum’s devastating effects on health, the environment and climate but these days the media knows better, right?

Wrong. The Walkley’s is again sponsored by Ampol and they even commissioned this glowing greenwashed article about their shared history with petrol. Ampol loves it so much they’ve got it on their website too.

Why is this wrong?
The sponsorship allows Ampol to pretend that it is part of the solution to climate change. The Walkley’s article gives the CEO a platform to position the company as part of the future energy mix and champion independent media – while simultaneously undermining it. The media is clearly not independent of when they gush over sponsors.

 “The role that governments will need to play – and companies – in shaping what society is going to look like over the next 10, 20, 30 years, you need to have a very independent and capable media to … arbitrate that debate effectively.”
Matthew Halliday
Ampol CEO

The influence of fossil fuels on Australian media has been recognised by the IPCC.

“A good number of corporate agents have attempted to derail climate mitigation by targeted lobbying and doubt-inducing media strategies. Corporate advertisement and brand building strategies attempt to deflect corporate responsibility to individuals,  and/or to appropriate climate care sentiments in their own brand building; climate change mitigation is uniquely framed through the choice of products and consumption, avoiding the notion of the political collective action sphere.” 
IPCC Report (AR6 WGIII Chapter 5)

* Ampol is an oil refiner and distributor whose demand forecasts are not compatible with the Paris goals. This means their future profits are dependent on refining and selling more petrol.
* Ampol is currently spending $160 million on rebranding with a campaign that ignores their polluting products and attempts to build an emotional connection with their brand to boost sales.
* Ampol is currently selling ‘carbon neutral’ petrol and diesel – the marketing of which pretends that the products have no effect on the climate and use concerning carbon offset claims.
* Ampol is one of the top 100 carbon polluters in Australia – not including the petrol it sells to customers (scope 3 emissions).
* Ampol’s ‘net zero’ plans do not include the emissions from its products (scope 3)

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Photo by Guy Bowden on Unsplash