"The government has been forced to revoke carbon neutral certification given to
a big tobacco company after the endorsement was found to be in breach of a
World Health Organization treaty to which Australia is a signatory.
Freedom of information documents show a complaint was made by the managing
director of the Carbon Reduction Institute, Rob Cawthorne, to the health
department in August 2022 about British American Tobacco (BAT) receiving the
certification from Climate Active.
A government-backed carbon neutral certification scheme, Climate Active is
managed by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.
It offers certifications for organisations who can show they are making efforts
to achieve carbon neutrality. Those organisations can then use the
In his complaint, Cawthorne wrote: “The certification itself could have the
effect of saying smoking is not so bad because it causes no impact on our
Australia is a signatory to the World Health Organization Framework Convention
on Tobacco Control [FCTC], which means the government must protect its policies
from interference from the tobacco industry and its interests.
Among many clauses, the FCTC states that government consultation with the
tobacco industry should be limited to measures needed for public officials or
agencies to enact effective tobacco control; that action should be taken to
de-normalise the tobacco industry’s “socially responsible” activities; and that
partnerships with the tobacco industry should be rejected.
The documents show that after being alerted to the complaint, the health
department’s director of tobacco control advised the Department of Industry
that “promotion of the tobacco industry’s carbon-neutral operations could be
perceived as a corporate social responsibility activity and government
endorsement could be in contravention of the FCTC”.
The director noted “the ‘greenwashing’ tactic used by the tobacco industry
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics