Big Oil’s Real Agenda on Climate Change

An InfluenceMap Report
March 2019

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

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See the InfluenceMap interview on Sky News.

See coverage in the The Guardian (UK), CBS News, Forbes, National Observer (Canada), The Independent (UK), EURACTIV (the EU), Channel News Asia (Singapore), Huffington Post (US), AFP (France), Les Echos (France), NRC Handelsblad (Netherlands), Japan Times, E24 (Norway), Arab News (Saudi Arabia), Grist (US), Business Standard (India), Forbes Japan (日本語), The Hill (US), The NRDC (US), Greenbiz, Phys.org, CNBC and Rolling Stone magazine.

This research finds that the five largest publicly-traded oil and gas majors (ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch 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.

See full report and infographics downloads below.

The trillion dollar Norwegian Oil Fund recently proposed to shift away from companies involved solely in exploration and production, allowing oil majors to dodge divestment, for now. Rather than divest, the Finance Ministry has instructed Norges Bank to engage with the oil majors to ensure they invest in renewables and accelerate the clean energy transition, but lawmakers as well as other large fund managers should study closely what oil companies are doing on climate and energy policy in practice. The InfluenceMap study is an important contribution to the serious assessment which must now take place. Remarkably, these five oil majors are forecast to put a mere 3% of their 2019 capital expenditure towards low carbon technologies whilst US$110.4 billion will be put into more oil & gas.

We have 11 years left to stop climate chaos: there can be no justification for oil companies to openly oppose regulation of its products based on emissions. We should not be thanking the Trump administration for rolling back the “avalanche of regulation” on the sector, nor opposing the transition to renewable energy and instead lobbying for expanded oil production. It is simply not the future.

Jan Erik Saugestad
CEO of Storebrand Asset Management

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.

Catherine Howarth
Chief Executive of ShareAction

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