Hoaxsters Tricked The United Nations Into Kicking Out A Real Company
The COP26 is where the members of the United Nations get together to say things like "Hey, we should probably start doing something serious about climate change" and "Yes, we probably should," and then everyone claps and goes home. The U.N. has been criticized for letting companies with questionable environmental track records use their climate change initiatives as an opportunity to greenwash their image while they continue killing the planet. Take Yasava, a "luxury jet interiors" company that somehow made it into the COP26's "net-zero" carbon emissions program because nothing says "sustainability" like installing a third jacuzzi inside your private airplane.
If someone wanted to make up a fake company to satirize the COP26, it would look like Yasava -- and in fact, last month, a group of legendary pranksters known as The Yes Men revealed that this is exactly what they did. Over the past two decades, The Yes Men have pulled elaborate stunts like impersonating a Dow Chemical representative on a BBC interview and making the company's stock plummet by $2 billion, or convincing a room full of executives that they're from the World Trade Organization despite wearing a golden suit with a giant inflatable dong. So, really, making up a "bespoke flight couture" company and fooling the United Nations is routine stuff for these guys.
Several news outlets reported on the prank, including The Guardian, which pointed out how ridiculous Yasava's website looked:
On the other hand, some Twitter users wondered how it's possible that Yasava's Facebook page goes back to 2014. Damn, running a fake social media page for seven years just for a prank? That's commitment to the bit. Except that the Yes Men weren't running that page or any other part of Yasava because they were never Yasava. They just said they were to demonstrate the absurdity of the U.N. basically doing PR for the most frivolous company ever.
The Yes Men were hoping to put the COP26 in the awkward position of having to admit that, yes, high-end jet interior decoration is a real thing, and they're big fans, apparently. What happened was even better. When one of the fooled outlets, The National, reached out to the COP26's press team asking for a comment, a spokesperson said: "Yasava have been removed from the Race To Zero program, and we're working with the U.N. High-Level Champions team to investigate the issue." Yes, even the U.N. thought this couldn't possibly be a real company.
The prank worked better than the Yes Men expected ... unless they also impersonated a spokesperson to say that, and they planned this all along as part of a bigger meta-joke? At this point, it would be foolish to rule out the possibility that the U.N. itself isn't part of some Yes Men op and just haven't gotten to the punchline yet. (Hopefully, it happens before we all burn alive and stuff.)
Maxwell Yezpitelok lives in Chile and also on Twitter.