YASAVA *is* a Real 'Private Jet Couture' Company: The Yes Men's COP26 Double Bluff
Of course the notorious corporate pranksters would infiltrate COP26...wouldn't they?
The Yes Men strike again! The notorious activist group has made their name performing attention-grabbing pranks that spotlight the death spiral of corporate bullshit. (Yay!)
Perhaps you were delighted at yesterday’s news that The Yes Men had hoodwinked the top brass at the UN as part of a targeted campaign at COP26.
If so, today your day is about to get even better - or worse, depending on how you look at it.
On Nov 8, mid-COP26, a press release went out that appeared to outline The Yes Men’s latest stunt. They were doing what they do best: create a fake company so ridiculous, that it blows up the corporate fealty of the investors that buy into it as big as a Missouri billboard.
They were posing as YASAVA, a “bespoke aircraft couture” company. YASAVA, preposterously, had been accepted into two official COP26 “net zero” initiatives: the ‘Race to Zero’ and the ‘Science Based Targets Initiative’.
Later, climate action group Glasgow Calls Out Polluters (GCOP) produced their own press release, ‘revealing’ that YASAVA was a Yes Men project to dupe the UN and COP26 leadership.
Numerous global outlets picked the story up, including The Guardian, and The National.
This morning, The Yes Men revealed that this was, in fact, a brilliant double bluff.
Yasava is a ‘bespoke, sustainable flight couture’ company that really, actually does exist.
In a third press release, titled Fake Fake Exposes Real Fake, the Yes Men revealed:
“In what would have been a monumental first for the group, the Yes Men supposedly got an absurd fake company — "YASAVA," producing "bespoke airplane couture" for private corporate fleets — accepted into two official COP26 "Net Zero" programs: the Race to Zero and Science-Based Targets initiatives…”
But after much publicity, and the occasional seed of doubt sown by Twitter detectives…
…indeed, that doubt was warranted: Yasava is completely real, and was founded in 1988, according to at least one source.
"It involved no skill at all to demonstrate the absurdity of the whole 'Net Zero' concept," said Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men. "Yasava did it all for us."
The real story is that the people running initiatives that are supposed to 🚨Save The Planet🚨 actually included, without a shred of irony, a private jet couture company in their plan.
This is a tiny example of why so many activists are calling on governments to recognise that we need systemic, global change - not simply a continuation of the capitalist system that exists only to perpetuate itself at all costs, with minor tweaks.
Put another way, you may feel we can prioritise interior design for your private jet, but I strongly feel we should prioritise not dying in a famine.
To help me deal with my famine feelings, I reached out to Glasgow Calls Out Polluters to ask about the backstory to the action:
“We were writing this report which profiled some of the companies signed up to these ‘net zero by 2050’ initiatives when we stumbled across YASAVA”, says activist Scott Tully of GCOP. “It was a pretty incredible find - here's a literal bespoke private jet interior design company - so obviously we had to profile them in our report. The whole point of writing it was to point out the absurdity of the net zero hype and you can't get much more absurd than this.”
GCOP activists emailed the Yes Men - firstly, to double-check this wasn’t a prank of theirs, and secondly, to get a quote for their report saying “something like 'this is the sort of company we wished we'd created'.”
The response from the Yes Men was… what if we said it was?
Together they planned the action - the latest in a long line of “laughtivist” interventions in corporate crimes (legal and/or moral) - for around a month leading up to the conference. “All the satire had basically been done for us by YASAVA and these COP26 initiatives,” Scott told me.
”Cristian and Jamie, who are part of the Yes Men team, did some amazing background work making the original YASAVA release look authentic. I mean, the content of the release was nonsense but it had a legit aesthetic. That said, our release as YASAVA was supposed to be obviously absurd but to be honest, I think we actually toned it down in comparison with some of the stuff on their website.”
Scott says there has been no response from YASAVA as yet but, in response to the action, they have now been “airbrushed” off the Science Based Targets Initiative (they remain on the Race to Zero website). Fortunately, the groups have a saved document with a record of YASAVA from September.
Read GCOP’s report on the COP26 ‘Race to Zero Credibility’, Scott’s video for The Independent ahead of COP26, and Greta Thunberg’s commentary on COP26 as a “greenwashing festival”.
And join your local climate action group.
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