Recently, the Washington Post hosted a live conversation with Chevron’s CEO Michael Wirth. Wirth was asked if he had a message for young people who feel passionately about climate change and who might have a problem with a traditional energy company like his.

Here's how he responded:

"There's never been a better time to join an industry like ours and to help create the energy future that we all desire… I implore young people to join us and bring their ambition, their aspiration, their creativity and skills to help us deal with these big challenges and create a better future." 

Chevron seems intent on trying to position itself as a leader in the energy transition to stave off the climate crisis. But in reality, it is the second most polluting company in the world, is forecast to increase its total oil production over the next decade (instead of phasing fossil fuels out like the recent IPCC report showed the need for), and has an abhorrent human rights record, including a pattern of funding racism in the US

This is just more greenwashing and gaslighting from the fossil fuel industry.

Earlier this year, we filed a legal complaint over concerns Chevron consistently misrepresents its image to appear climate-friendly and racial justice-oriented. While the complaint remains under review, we are still watching Chevron’s ads, marketing, and PR materials – and the gross misrepresentations continue.

The appeal to young people from Chevron’s CEO is one such example. Wirth implores young people to join in helping to create a better future, but fails to mention that the company is doubling down on its climate-wrecking products. This would be a catastrophe for the planet – particularly for younger generations.

We checked with a few youth climate activists to get their reactions to this type of greenwashing from the fossil fuel industry. Here's what they said:

"As you try to convince young climate activists to join you in your false climate action and justice goals, remember that the impacts of the climate crisis will not hide, take a break, or suddenly disappear, and you can’t pretend they aren’t happening. In my country, it has been a reality (I have experienced it almost my whole life) since way back. It’s our present and might become our future if you don't face the reality, accept and act immediately, if you don't put the people and the planet above profits, if you don’t put an end to your greenwashing and take total responsibility for your actions because money will be useless on a dead planet."

Evelyn Acham, climate justice activist, Rise Up Movement, Uganda

"Youth are already bringing our ambition, aspiration, creativity, and skills to the climate and nature movement, but it is not in the service of business-as-usual painted green. I'm just one example of a young person who has created her own job because the ones available don't match up with the future we deserve. That job has grown into a fully-youth led organization with a staff team from all over the globe. We know how to tell the difference between climate justice and gaslighting, and in the absence of opportunities to contribute to systemic change in the existing job market we are building our own. And we are not alone. If industries like Chevron’s don't catch up, we are going to leave them behind in the dust. In fact, we already are."

– Marina Melanidis, Founder, Youth4Nature, Canada, | Facebook| Twitter| Instagram

"For far too long, we have let Big Oil get away with lying to the world about a crisis they have fueled. Their lies have poisoned rivers, destroyed land and killed people. It is time to call their hypocrisy out, take them to court and remove them from climate negotiations. Fossil fuel executives should have no seat in the society."

Disha Ravi, climate activist, Fridays for Future India

“This effort from fossil fuel CEOs to indoctrinate teenagers into their polluting industries shows that they are actually scared of the power young people have. When we organise together for a world in which fossil fuels are banished and exploitative, CEOs don’t exist! The people in power try to appease us with empty promises, but we don’t need their approval to build a world where people and the planet are central, because they are the 1% and we are the 99%."

– Cat Scothorne, 19, Glasgow Calls Out Polluters

Youth climate activists have had to take their future – and the future of our planet – into their own hands. No amount of gaslighting can deter them.