InfluenceMap report alleges misleading climate-related branding & lobbying by major oil & gas companies; BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell & Total responded

In March 2019, InfluenceMap published research finding that the five largest publicly-traded oil and gas majors (ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and Total) have invested over $1Bn of shareholder funds in the three years following the Paris Agreement on misleading climate-related branding and lobbying. These efforts are overwhelmingly in conflict with the goals of this landmark global climate accord and designed to maintain the social and legal license to operate and expand fossil fuel operations. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre reached out to all five companies for a public response; BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, & Total responded. 

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Article
14 May 2019

InfluenceMap releases report showing major oil companies' investment into misleading climate-related branding & lobbying

Author: InfluenceMap

"How the oil majors have spent $1Bn since Paris on narrative capture and lobbying on climate", March 2019

This research finds that the five largest publicly-traded oil and gas majors (ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and Total) have invested over $1Bn of shareholder funds in the three years following the Paris Agreement on misleading climate-related branding and lobbying. These efforts are overwhelmingly in conflict with the goals of this landmark global climate accord and designed to maintain the social and legal license to operate and expand fossil fuel operations. Company disclosures of spending on climate lobbying and branding are very limited. To fill this transparency gap, InfluenceMap has devised a methodology using best-available disclosures and intensive research of corporate messaging to evaluate oil major spending aimed at influencing the climate agenda, both directly and through their key trade groups. This research will feed into efforts by key stakeholders to bring the oil and gas sector into line with the urgency of action on climate change. These include the global investment community which in 2017 launched the Climate Action 100+ program of engagement with some of the world's largest corporations on climate change... "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." [says Catherine Howarth, chief executive of ShareAction].

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Company response
10 May 2019

Total's response re InfluenceMap report claiming misleading climate-related branding & lobbying

Author: Total

Our strategy, which encompasses investments not only in the oil business but also in natural gas and low carbon electricity businesses, involves gradually decreasing the carbon intensity of of the energy products used by our customers...  we are fully committed to contribute to supply to as many people as possible a more affordable, more available and cleaner energy while responding to growing consumer energy demand and in particular for electricity and contributing to tackle the climate challenge...  We are moreover committed to providing robust reporting on issues relating to climate change. Thus, we decided... to voluntarily publish each year a dedicated report on the integration of climate challenges into the Group’s strategy...  With respect to corporate lobbying regarding climate change, we have taken note of Influence Map’s report...  we believe the conclusions of that report are not accurate... [Total is] involved in multiple international initiatives... In January 2016, Total published a Lobbying Ethics Charter which requires all entities of the Group to comply with our Code of Conduct in carrying out any lobbying activities and states in particular that such entities will convey messages that are consistent with our stated positions and strategies... In relation to professional associations, we are members of many national and international trade associations, whose names are public...  Our participation in professional organisations does not prevent us from speaking up and communicating our own position, where this differs from that of the associations from which we are members... We are undertaking in 2019 a review of Total’s participation in the main professional associations to assess whether their public policy statements on climate are in line with Total’s positions...

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Company response
9 May 2019

Shell's response re InfluenceMap report claiming misleading climate-related branding & lobbying

Author: Shell

We firmly reject the premise of this report. We believe InfluenceMap has taken an overly simplistic view of climate policy, the value of engagement, and the complexity of the required transition to a lower carbon energy system. We also don't agree with the Report's implication that Shell's spending on (direct and/or indirect) climate related engagement and corporate messaging is 'in conflict with the goals of the Paris climate accord'... We recognize the need for greater transparency as raised by the InfluenceMap report... Shell recently published an Industry Associations Climate Review, which assesses Shell's alignment with 19 key industry associations on climate-related policy... We have been clear about our support for the Paris Agreement and the need for society to transition to a lower-carbon future, but the InfluenceMap report appears to suggest that any extended role of fossil fuels in the energy system is incompatible with the goals of Paris... IEA data suggest that natural gas will have a role to play... Shell recognizes that the future energy system must be made of products which, on average, have a lower carbon intensity... Society must also contend with the carbon dioxide emissions that cannot be avoided. We are strong proponents of government led carbon pricing, carbon capture and storage, and nature-based solutions as means of addressing emissions... Shell is taking concrete steps to address our own carbon footprint and we intend to cut the carbon intensity of the energy products we sell in step with society as it moves towards the goal of the Paris Agreement.

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Company response
6 May 2019

BP's response re InfluenceMap report claiming misleading climate-related branding & lobbying

Author: BP

...BP’s position on climate change and the energy transition is public, clear, and consistent. We are committed to helping to solve the dual challenge of providing more energy with fewer emissions, playing our part in the transition to a low carbon future. We share our perspective on emerging policy issues with policy organisations in which we participate, and where we believe our contributions to policy conversations are beneficial both to BP and to the wider discussion... We aim for alignment between our policies and those of trade associations but understand that associations’ positions reflect a compromise of the assorted views of the membership.

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Company response
6 May 2019

Chevron's response re InfluenceMap report claiming misleading climate-related branding & lobbying

Author: Chevron

Chevron fundamentally disagrees with the "influence map" report and believes it does not promote a constructive nor an honest conversation regarding climate change solutions. We deny the assertion that Chevron had engaged in "climate-related branding and lobbying" that is "overwhelmingly in conflict" with the Paris Agreement. We believe there is no evidence Chevron misled the public about climate change... Chevron believes climate change is real and human activity contributes to it.. Chevron recognizes the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the use of fossil fuels contributes to increases in global temperatures... We align our outlook and activity with the principles of the IPCC...Chevron is taking action to address climate change and investing in technology and low carbon business opportunities that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions... Along with other metrics, financial compensation for executives and most other employees will be linked to achieving these reductions...

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Company response
6 May 2019

ExxonMobil's response re InfluenceMap report claiming misleading climate-related branding & lobbying

Author: ExxonMobil

ExxonMobil is committed to providing affordable energy to support human progress while advancing effective solutions to address the risks of climate change. We support the Paris Agreement as it provides the first major global framework to address climate change in a meaningful way while also ensuring accessible and affordable energy supplies throughout the world. A significant challenge is that the technologies currently don’t exist at scale across the transportation, industrial and power sectors to meet future energy demand while reducing emissions to the levels required to achieve a 2-degree C pathway envisioned by the Paris agreement. We are working to develop scalable solutions that drive long-term value – as demonstrated by our longstanding commitment to fundamental research, and collaborations with academia, industry and commercial partners. We’ve spent more than $9 billion since 2000 focused on researching, developing and deploying lower-emission solutions.

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