PressPort logo


Press release October 1, 2009 Energy & Environment

The energy sector attracts more criticism from NGOs and activist groups than any other industry sector, said a new report analysing NGO campaigns across the globe.

The energy sector attracts more criticism from NGOs and activist groups than any other industry sector, said a new report analysing NGO campaigns across the globe. It claimed energy accounts for 9 of the 30 most active campaign issues worldwide while just three issues - climate change, oil sands and coal - consumed a quarter of the world’s NGO campaigning resources over the last nine months. 

These figures were published today by SIGWatch, a consultancy specialising in tracking NGOs and issues. In its report, Where are NGOs concentrating their campaigning resources?, top of the NGO energy sector hit list after climate change is Canadian oil sands and coal-fired power plants, Nuclear energy, large dams and offshore oil drilling, once the hot button energy issues for NGOs, have been pushed down to fifth, seventh and twelfth place respectively. 

“The dominance of climate change and related issues reflects a dramatic pivot by the environmental movement and its allies within the last three years, away from traditional environmental concerns,” said Robert Blood, author of the report and director of SIGWatch. 

“We have also seen a marked acceleration in climate campaigning in the run-up to the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December. After Copenhagen, what will the NGOs do with their campaigning resources? Our guess is that they will develop a whole new environmental theme, probably on water footprint, paralleling their approach to getting the public thinking about carbon emissions.”  

SIGWatch said Canadian oil sands has been the second fastest rising issue for NGOs since 2008, and an example of how rapidly environmental NGOs can project their power internationally, for just a year ago, almost all campaigning on oil sands occurred in Canada. But during 2009 environmental NGOs made oil sands a lightning rod for their U.S. climate campaigning where it is now their number one issue along with coal, ahead even of offshore and Arctic drilling. Similarly in Europe, NGOs led by Greenpeace and WWF have targeted oil sands operators like Shell and Statoil and made oil sands the fourth most active energy issue after nuclear, coal and climate change for NGOs there. 

In South America and Asia-Pacific, SIGWatch found NGOs had different priorities, more concerned with large dams, reflecting worries about several large and controversial schemes planned or under construction, and how to use climate change agreements to protect native forests. South American NGOs were also very concerned about the impact of drilling on indigenous peoples, while for their Asian counterparts, it was coal burning and the safety of nuclear power plants. 

Although low on the radar for now, several new global campaigns have emerged and appear to be growing rapidly. These include carbon emissions from shipping, bank investment in nuclear energy and large-scale solar thermal plants. SIGWatch warned companies affected to monitor these campaigns closely.  

Readers can download a free copy of this report from

Note for editors

You can download this report from

SIGWatch specializes in global NGO tracking and issues analysis. Headquartered in Freiburg, Germany with partners in the U.S. and Canada, SIGWatch has over 50 clients, nearly all multinational companies, major PR consultancies and high profile industry associations. SIGWatch services are also used by several business and management schools for teaching and academic research. 

- ENDS –


Media contact: Robert Blood on [email protected] or +49 176 6257 1577 

Contact Robert Blood for a live remote online demonstration of SIGWatch.



Energy & Environment