API's track record on climate policy

March 03 2021

American Petroleum Institute’s Track Record on Climate Policy

Given media reports that the American Petroleum Institute (API) is considering endorsing a carbon price, InfluenceMap has reviewed the organization’s history of climate policy obstruction.

Overall, the API scores an 'F' in InfluenceMap's A-to-F scoring system for tracking corporate lobbying on climate. Further, it has a lobbying intensity of 41% which, along with the 'F' grade, indicates highly strategic and oppositional positions on Paris-aligned policy. Some data points from the past year include:

In January 2021, the API's CEO Mike Sommers used his State of American Energy Keynote Speech to argue against government "mandates" to transition the energy mix. He also said curtailing fossil fuel resource development would be the "surest way to bring (economic) recovery to a stop”.

Also in January 2021, the API described the goals of the Paris Agreement as "aggressive".

API CEO Mike Sommers said in November 2020 that the organization would use "every tool at its disposal" if the Biden Administration tried to restrict development of oil and gas reserves on federal land.

In October 2020, Politico reported that the API would oppose any regulations or taxes that would increase the price of US oil or gas exports.

In March 2020, the API wrote to then President Donald Trump arguing for certain government regulations to be waived as part of the Covid-19 pandemic response.

It is also worth remembering that French oil giant Total announced in January 2021 that it would exit the American Petroleum Institute because of differences over climate policy, including the need for a carbon price.

Even if the API was to shift on carbon pricing, other issues identified by Total remain unaddressed including the Institute’s membership of the Transportation Fairness Alliance, which opposes electric vehicle subsidies.

"The American Petroleum Institute has a long track record of lobbying for the continued reliance on fossil fuels and against effective climate action," InfluenceMap Program Manager Faye Holder said.

"Effective climate action requires a suite of policies to transition away from fossil fuels. Scientists have consistently said that putting a price on carbon pollution is an important tool to address the climate crisis, but it is not the only policy that will be needed.

"As such, any change in position from the API on a carbon price needs to be viewed in the wider context of its consistently negative lobbying on many other climate-related policies, including its opposition to electric vehicle subsidies and the Renewable Fuel Standard.

"It is clear that following Total's decision to exit the API, and many other oil majors announcing net zero targets, the industry association has been under pressure to adapt its climate policy.

“However, until the full details of its new position on carbon pricing are known, many observers will be skeptical of the API’s apparent change of heart.

“Carbon pricing is, after all, a broad concept.

“Embracing carbon pricing does not necessarily translate into support for effective climate policy until there is a specific piece of legislation or regulation to implement a price, for example a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme.”

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Simon Cullen, Communications Manager, InfluenceMap (London)

simon.cullen( @ )influencemap.org