Shoppers walk past a Christmas tree in Melbourne.
People walk past a Christmas tree at a shopping centre in Melbourne. Image by Diego Fedele/AAP IMAGES

Claim of Grinch-like Christmas plot is a real turkey

Meg Williams January 4, 2023
WHAT WAS CLAIMED

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has launched an initiative to cancel Christmas traditions in a bid to save the environment.

OUR VERDICT

False. There is no evidence that the WEF has launched any such initiative, and has in fact produced content in keeping with the Christmas spirit.

A video on Facebook, originating from a prolific misinformation website, has claimed the World Economic Forum (WEF) has launched an initiative to cancel Christmas traditions in a bid to save the environment.

The claim is false. While the video claims the WEF, CNN and The Guardian have pushed for Christmas traditions to be cancelled for the sake of the environment, the only evidence it offers are out-of-context news clips and stories. Conversely, recent content produced by all three organisations has remained very much within the traditional Christmas spirit.

The video (screenshot here) had garnered over 55,000 views at the time of writing, and has been shared elsewhere on Facebook (here, here, here and here), on Twitter (here and here), and on YouTube.

The video features Sean Adl-Tabatabai, creator of the website which is listed on FactCheck.org’s misinformation directory. He begins by saying: “The World Economic Forum has recently launched a controversial new initiative that will have Christians up in arms. The World Economic Forum is now calling for Christmas holiday traditions to be cancelled in coming years as part of an effort to save the environment.”

He does not provide any evidence to prove the WEF’s supposed new initiative, and AAP FactCheck could not locate any content produced by the WEF demonstrating any intentions to cancel Christmas.

A screenshot of the Facebook video
 The video claims WEF wants to introduce a policy for governments to phase out Christmas traditions. 

In December 2020, the WEF published a video titled “4 Tips To Make Your Christmas Tree Truly Green“. The video suggests buying a real tree instead of plastic, buying from a local supplier or a charity, renting a tree that can be replanted, and disposing of the tree properly after use. At no point does the WEF suggest against putting up a tree at all, let alone cancelling Christmas.

There is also no evidence the WEF has an aversion to the Christmas tradition of gift-giving. In December 2022, the WEF published an article titled “10 sustainable gift ideas for the holiday period“, and another article about the Icelandic tradition of giving books at Christmas.

At the 15 second mark of the video, Adl-Tabatabai continues: “The WEF has ordered mainstream media outlets to begin pushing the anti-Christmas narrative and wants to introduce an international policy that will require governments to phase out Christmas traditions in their countries in favour of carbon neutral celebrations.”

He adds: “CNN, always at the forefront of the globalist agenda, ordered its audience to cancel Christmas last year because of COVID.” At this point in the video, a clip from a CNN segment is played, where Dr Leana Wen, a professor of health policy and management, says: “Anyone who has not cancelled their plans yet for Christmas and the New Year should cancel their travel plans and absolutely not gather indoors with anyone who’s not in their immediate family.”

But the clip has been taken out of context and misrepresented. The original segment is from December 2020 – not 2021 – before large-scale vaccination began and after a post-Thanksgiving increase in COVID-19 cases had experts urging caution for the holiday period, including suggesting staying home instead of travelling. Fox News reported on the CNN segment here, and a longer version of the clip can be viewed here.

In 2021, however, the same expert wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post in which she said that vaccinated people did not need to cancel their holiday plans. Dr Wen reiterated this in an interview with CNN.

In the lead-up to Christmas 2022, CNN published content about traditional Christmas feasts, Christmas markets, Christmas vacation spots, and gift ideas – contrary to the claim that the news network is in the pocket of an anti-Christmas WEF.

A Christmas market in Frankfurt, Germany.
 In the lead-up to Christmas 2022 CNN published content about traditional Christmas markets. 

At the 52 second mark of the video, Adl-Tabatabai says: “The Guardian, another globalist mouthpiece firmly under the control of the WEF, has told its readers that giving gifts and enjoying traditional Christmas meals is vulgar and needs to stop”. This statement is accompanied by a screenshot of a Guardian headline that reads: “Dreaming of a green Christmas? Here’s how to make it come true.”

But this article was published in 2019, and does not say that enjoying traditional Christmas meals is vulgar or needs to stop. Instead, the report argued that while people in the UK were “turning their backs on the vulgarity of Christmas consumerism”, Britain still created 30 per cent more waste than usual over Christmas. It went on to suggest different ways to reduce waste over Christmas – none of which consisted of abolishing traditional Christmas food and gift-giving.

In fact, in December 2022, The Guardian published several articles about gift-giving, none of which proposed getting rid of the tradition (see here, here, and here).

“Instead of turkey and all the trimmings,” the video continues, “The Guardian wants you to cancel your traditional Christmas meal and replace it with insects, bugs, crickets, and Bill Gates’s synthetic fake meat” (video mark 1min 5sec). This statement is accompanied by a screenshot of another Guardian article with the headline: “Reasons to put insects on the Christmas menu”.

Stick insects
 The video also claims insects and bugs will replace traditional Christmas meals. 

This article was published in 2016, and says nothing about Bill Gates or synthetic meat.

In fact, the “Christmas food recipes” section of the The Guardian’s website does not feature a single recipe featuring bugs or indeed “Bill Gates’s synthetic fake meat”. However, it features several recipes containing meat (see examples here, here, here, here, here, here and here).

The video goes on to say: “Incoming house Democratic whip Katherine Clark is firmly under the control of the WEF and she has taken it upon herself to lead the Congressional charge to cancel Christmas, declaring that she wants to do it for her children” (video mark 1min 15sec).

But in the original NBC News segment, Clark was asked about the diversity of the incoming minority House Democratic Caucus, and what changes the average Democratic House member can expect to see under the new leadership team. Clark said as someone from a younger generation than the previous Democratic House leaders, she would bring different life experiences into her role, such as children’s concerns around climate change and gun violence. Neither Clark nor her interviewer mentioned anything about Christmas in the segment.

The Verdict

The claim that the WEF launched an initiative to cancel Christmas traditions to save the environment is false. There is no evidence the WEF, or the media organisations purportedly under the WEF’s influence, have encouraged the abolition of Christmas traditions.

Instead, the video uses out-of-context news clips and stories to push the claim.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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