Photo Contest Pressures Canon to Stop Spreading Climate Misinformation

Cameras don't lie

A new global photography competition has launched with the express purpose of demanding that Canon end its supposed support for climate denial, which the competition organizers say is done through its think tank, the Canon Institute for Global Studies (CIGS).

The Cameras Don’t Lie competition has been launched by a corporate accountability group Action Speaks Louder as well as a contingent of self-described climate-concerned photographers. Each entry for the competition must involve climate change in its subject matter and will be judged by a panel of photographers and activists including Celina Chien, Hisham Akira Bharoocha, and Naoki Ishikawa.

“We are looking for inspirational and powerful environmental photographs that encourage us to take better care of our planet. While highlighting humankind’s impact on the environment, the competition also hopes to celebrate the human spirit, our ability to survive and innovate,” the Cameras Don’t Lie competition says. “This competition is open to professional and amateur photographers of all ages, from all over the world.”

The competition is a direct response to CIGS’s research director ​​Taishi Sugiyama — who the group says has sat on influential Japanese government task forces — labeling the climate crisis as “fake news” and publishing books questioning climate science, including one targeted at Japanese school children.

The competition’s organizers say that Canon references the research from this think tank to spread misinformation that it can then use to block Japan’s energy transition. Canon recently cut its own climate targets by 50%.

“The CIGS’s comments align with Canon’s failure to commit to clean energy. Canon has only committed to a 4.85% renewable energy target, while its peers such as Sony, Ricoh, Fujifilm, Nikon, and Panasonic have committed to 100% renewable electricity,” Action Speaks Louder says. “A Transition Asia report from late 2022 also revealed Canon has effectively halved its emissions reduction target.”

Action Speaks Louder is calling on Canon to issue a public statement that it in no way endorses the anti-science and pro-fossil fuel views of CIGS. The group is also demanding Canon commit to 100% renewable electricity and advocate for the rapid energy transition in Japan.

“Canon is one of the world’s most influential brands and has the capacity to catalyze real climate action. But the reality of Canon’s promotion of climate denial coupled with its appalling record on clean energy would shock its customers. This competition aims to harness the creativity of photographers around the world to challenge Canon to be the sustainable company it markets itself as,” James Lorenz, Action Speaks Louder’s Executive Director, says.

“A significant portion of ‘what appears to be a scientific controversy’ over the climate crisis is intended to delay action,” Seita Emori, a Professor at the Institute for Future Initiatives at the University of Tokyo as well as a Senior Principal Researcher at the National Institute for Environmental Studies adds.

“A company that aims for a sustainable future should keep a distance from such a manufactured controversy, which would undermine its core value.”

Cameras don't lie

Entries are open until 23:59 Japan Standard Time (JST) on February 28, 2023 and the winner will be announced in late March 2023, which specifically Coincides with the annual Canon shareholder meeting. The winning climate change-themed image will be displayed in Times Square, New York City in order to maximize pressure into a public response.

Submitting an entry is free and full guidelines for submission can be found on the Cameras Don’t Lie website.

When asked to respond to the competition or its goals, Canon told PetaPixel that it does not have a comment at this time.