Experts in communications and greenwashing say the oil and gas industry is making a risky play in so fully scrubbing environmental claims from their websites and social media in response to a new law. 

The Pathways Alliance group of oilsands companies has removed all content from its platforms while other companies have modified their websites after new greenwashing amendments were passed as part of an update to the Competition Act.

The chief executives of the six oilsands companies behind Pathways put out a statement late Thursday that said the law, which requires companies to back up their environmental claims with evidence, represents a serious threat to freedom of communications. 

Sarbjit Kaur, co-founder of KPW Communications, says the industry strategy is very risky because it could be perceived that their environmental claims are unfounded, or they don't respect the legislation.

Wren Montgomery, associate professor of sustainability at Western University's Ivey Business School who studies greenwashing, says Canadians are savvy and really dislike hypocrisy.

She says the standards in the law are reasonable, and the industry's removal of so many claims in response to it will likely leave many thinking they weren't backed by evidence. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 21, 2024.