Extensive analysis finds that the five supermajors are spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year on a systematic strategy to portray themselves as positive and proactive on the climate change emergency. This is found to be inconsistent with the companies' plans for capital investment in their business. It is also found to be misaligned from the detailed policy engagement activities of the companies and their industry associations on climate change.
Across 3,421 items of public communications materials from the five companies in 2021, 60% contained at least one green claim, while only 23% contained claims promoting oil and gas. Claims highlighting the companies' support of, or involvement with, efforts to transition the energy mix were by far the most popular type of green claim.
None of the companies assessed disclosed the strategies that inform their public messaging on climate change, nor the resources dedicated to related activities. Using cost estimates based on the number of communications and media staff the companies employ, InfluenceMap’s analysis suggests that the companies are spending around $750 million each year cumulatively on climate-related communication activities
In contrast, only 12% of the five companies' 2022 capital expenditure (CAPEX) is forecasted to be dedicated to 'low carbon' activities. Additionally, none of the supermajors' forecasted oil production appears in line with the International Energy Agency's Net Zero Emissions by 2050 (as of Q4 2021), with several companies planning to increase oil and gas production between 2021 and 2026.
At the same time, InfluenceMap found that none of the companies have aligned their climate policy engagement activities with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and retain a dense and global network of industry associations globally, which are highly active in their opposition to Paris Aligned climate policies
The findings raise serious and persistent questions for regulators and the companies’ shareholders, as well as PR and advertising agencies, media, and social media platforms that work with the companies. It is noted that this analysis focuses on the companies’ main corporate communications channels and thus is focused on their North American/European communications. Future research will focus on how the companies communicate in the Global South.
In addition to the report, Integrated Climate Profiles detailing each companies' public communications strategies, policy engagement, and business operations can be downloaded from this page.