ExxonMobil attempts to influence the European Green Deal

An InfluenceMap Briefing
March 6th, 2020

ExxonMobil attempts to influence the European Green Deal

Please only use this link for references.

See media coverage in The Guardian, European Observer, Euractiv, Economic Times

New evidence has emerged showing that US oil major ExxonMobil met with European Commission officials in an attempt to influence the European Green Deal on climate change, three weeks before the plan’s announcement in December 2019. Notes from the November 21st, 2019 meeting (obtained by InfluenceMap via a Freedom of Information request from the Commission) show ExxonMobil representatives pushed for the EU Commission to change its approach to climate regulation in the transport sector, including removing the EU’s strict CO2 vehicle tailpipe standards, in what appears to have been an effort to stall a push towards electric vehicles. A direct extract from the meeting notes indicate the un-named ExxonMobil officials argued that the EU should:

"Give serious consideration to extending ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme) beyond stationary sources. Tail pipe emission legislation should be substituted with power plant to wheel emission regulation."

The European Commission's subsequent Green Deal announcement included increased ambition for the transport sector, including plans for stricter standards for internal combustion engines. However, the Commission did commit to an impact assessment on whether to include road transport into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), a policy seemingly pushed by ExxonMobil in the meeting but opposed by climate policy experts such as Transport Environment and Carbon Market Watch.

The new evidence is the latest example of ExxonMobil’s attempts to influence climate legislation globally and comes after the US oil major’s lobbyists avoided a ban from the European Parliament in 2019 after failing to attend a hearing on climate denial. A PDF copy of the meeting notes accessed by InfluenceMap via the FOI can be downloaded below, along with detailed commentary from InfluenceMap on what the evidence shows about ExxonMobil's lobbying positions.

  • This latest finding reflects a pattern observed by InfluenceMap through tracking ExxonMobil’s climate change lobbying since 2015, with the company continuing in its attempts to water-down or delay meaningful policy responses to climate change despite its public-facing shift towards more climate positive marketing and PR.

  • It also demonstrates a broader trend in oil majors’ climate lobbying tactics: a shift from the propagation of climate science denial towards a range of more subtle tactics and narratives to distract policymakers and the public away from an urgent and robust policy intervention on climate on the scale recommended by the IPCC’s 2018 special report on 1.5C warming.

  • The evidence sits aside ExxonMobil’s business-as-usual investment strategy: only around 3% of ExxonMobil’s $30 billion in CapEx in 2019 was spent on low-carbon technologies, with the rest on oil and gas-related business.

This represents yet another evidence piece of an ongoing strategy by the company to capture the narrative on climate, dwelling on long-term technical solutions, while attempting to avert the decisive regulatory action that the IPCC believes is urgently required to mitigate against dangerous climate change.

Edward Collins
Director of Corporate Climate Lobbying, InfluenceMap

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