Major oil companies have spent $1 billion on climate lobbying that is “overwhelmingly in conflict” with the Paris Agreement, according to one new report. And another report reveals oil execs laughing about their newfound access within the Trump administration.
While many oil companies have made a public show of their green energy investments, InfluenceMap reports that ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP and Total have used more than $1 billion in shareholder funds since the Paris Agreement on “misleading climate-related branding and lobbying.” These efforts are “designed to maintain the social and legal license to operate and expand fossil fuel operations.”
InfluenceMap used its own methodology “using best-available disclosures and intensive research of corporate messaging” to come up with its total estimate for climate lobbying and branding.
Catherine Howarth, chief executive of London-based responsible investment charity ShareAction, didn’t pull any punches when asked to comment on the report:
“InfluenceMap’s research confirms a widely held suspicion that Big Oil’s glossy sustainability reports and shiny climate statements are all rhetoric and no action. These companies have mastered the art of corporate doublespeak – by boasting about their climate credentials while quietly using their lobbying firepower to sabotage the implementation of sensible climate policy and pouring millions into groups that engage in dirty lobbying on their behalf.”
BP, a company that’s looking to invest in U.S. solar power, spends the most — more than $50 million on climate lobbying annually, according to the report. BP and the EDF just announced a partnership to reduce methane emissions, though the company reportedly lobbied against methane rules in recent years.
Havin’ A Laugh
A separate report on the influence of Big Oil comes from Reveal, which obtained a recording of a private meeting between oil executives from June 2017.
On the recording, Dan Naatz, political director of the oil and gas lobbying group Independent Petroleum Association of America, spoke about former oil industry lobbyist and attorney David Bernhardt being appointed at the Department of the Interior. Naatz said,
“We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues.”
IPAA CEO Barry Russell was heard on the recording describing a meeting he had with former EPA head Scott Pruitt, the Trump appointee who was so besieged by scandals that he actually had to resign — a seeming impossibility in the recent political climate.
Russell said EPA staffers were writing down what Russell had to say about air pollution regulations, as other executives began laughing. “So it’s really a new world for us and very, very helpful,” Russell said.
Reveal notes that since the IPAA created its “wish list,” the Interior Department has granted nearly all its requests, including:
- Rescinding fracking rules meant to control water pollution
- Withdrawing rules that limit climate change-causing methane gas releases
- Abandoning environmental restoration of public land damaged by oil development
- Ending long-standing protections for migratory birds
Oil companies are getting more involved in green energy. They can see where the market is going. They see there’s potential. And they know it’s good PR. But they’re still oil companies.
Why shouldn’t a strictly “market-based” response be considered a total solution when dealing with climate change? Hmm. It’s a mystery.
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