Research has found that some of the top publicly trading fossil fuel companies – ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP and Total – have funded misleading climate-related branding and lobbying. Spending over $1 billion in the last three years since the Paris Agreement.
It was estimated the companies spend around $200 million a year lobbying to delay or block policies, which are intended to combat climate change. Ultimately, allowing the companies to maintain the social and legal license they require in order to operate and expand their businesses.
Social media is becoming the main platform they are targeting, which is used to push agendas that weaken and oppose proposed legislation.
A campaign, which successfully stopped a carbon tax in Washington State, gained $13 million in donations from BP and was also supported by Chevron. The research showed that around $1 million of this was used on social media ads.
This comes after many of these companies voluntarily joined an initiative, known as the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, in which they state “members leverage our collective strength to lower carbon footprints of energy, industry, transportation value chains via engagements, policies, investments and deployment.”
Catherine Howarth, the Chief Executive of ShareAction, commented: “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,” she added.
Edward Collins, the author of the report, said: “Oil majors’ climate branding sounds increasingly hollow and their credibility is on the line. They publicly support climate action while lobbying against binding policy. They advocate low-carbon solutions, but such investments are dwarfed by spending on expanding their fossil fuel business.”
In 2019, it is expected oil companies’ spending will increase to $115 billion, with only 3% of that investment targeted at low carbon projects.
Shell have said in a statement, that they “firmly reject the premise of this report. We are very clear about our support for the Paris agreement, and the steps that we are taking to help meet society’s needs for more and cleaner energy.”
Chevron has also stated they are “taking prudent, cost-effective actions” and are “committed to working with policymakers to design balanced and transparent greenhouse gas emissions reductions policies that address environmental goals and ensure consumers have access to affordable, reliable and ever cleaner energy.”