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Revealed: EECA spent $500,000 staging a fake climate march

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) spent $500,000 staging a fake climate march, complete with major streets closed in Wellington. This was part of EECA's $3 million "Gen Less" ad campaign – "a call to people and businesses to commit to living a 'less is more' lifestyle in their energy use."

The spending information, released to the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union under the Official Information Act, can be viewed here.

The $3 million cost was made of two sub-campaigns, each centred around different versions of two ads.

•  The first ad, produced in 2019, presents quotes from historical figures including Winston Churchill, Princess Diana, Martin Luther King Jr, and Anne Frank, edited to sound like calls for climate action.

• The second ad, produced in 2020, features a bearded, pierced narrator walking through a crowd of chanting protestors. Smoke bombs are set off in the background. The narrator urges viewers to buy less, fly less, and drive less. Important Wellington streets were closed for the fake protest, including Featherston St and Hunter St.

Each ad cost around $500,000 to produce, with the remainder of the $3 million spent to buy air time, radio time, digital advertising, and a series of congratulatory Stuff articles.

The sheer cost is incredible. EECA's old ads may have been annoying, but at least they looked cheap. For perspective, EECA could have simply used the $3 million to supply energy-efficient lightbulbs for hundreds of thousands homes.

The absurdity of shutting down streets and hiring fake climate protestors is amplified by the fact the ad was produced shortly after a series of School Strike 4 Climate marches, from which plenty of footage was already available. Instead, EECA disrupted traffic and blew out its own emissions by transporting dozens of actors to a fake protest.

The message behind the Gen Less campaign is so broad and obvious that it's redundant. People know how to save energy in fact, they've already got an incentive to do so in order to cut their power bill and avoid the cost of carbon credits.

Taxpayers will judge for themselves the ethics of exploiting the legacy of Anne Frank and purchasing positive news coverage for this campaign.

The total reported spending on the Gen Less advertising campaign, as of February, was $2,979,423.42.

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