Last week while I was in Copenhagen, I got a press release in an email stating that Canada was totally reversing its climate change position, announcing aggressive limits on carbon emissions, and would start paying "climate debt" to developing countries.
"This is interesting, I thought. I'm going to have to see how this will play out." I didn't realize at the time that I'd been punked by The Yes Men. The Yes Men are a group of international pranksters who challenge free market doctrine, capitalism and unresponsive governments and call attention to environmental crises and injustice through elaborate public hoaxes.
Past hoaxes have included announcing Dow Chemical would pay $12 billion in reparations to the victims of the Bhopal gas leak on BBC World News, pretending to be the US Chamber Of Commerce and announcing it was totally reversing its position on climate legislation (they are now being sued for this) and creating fake editions of the New York Times and New York Post. You can learn all about their antics in their recently-released film, "The Yes Men Fix The World".
The prank continued in elaborate detail, chronicled and updated by our Eat The Press Editor, Jason Linkins. After the fake announcement, there was a fake press conference between Canada and Uganda (Watch it here) on a fake UN set streamed on a fake UN website. A fake Wall Street Journal article covered Canada's change of heart, which was followed by a fake statement from the Canadian government condemning the prank. Elaborate!
I went behind the scenes in Copenhagen to meet The Yes Men and their team of pranksters to find out what it takes to pull off such an elaborate hoax. I particularly loved the tour of the set they created for the UN press conference, which was designed by art students and used tons of found objects.
A special thanks to Jennifer Prediger from Grist.org for shooting and editing this video.