Report: UK firms are the biggest spenders in global climate change lobbying

BP and Shell top the league table, according to a new report.

The world’s five largest publicly-listed oil and gas companies spend approximately $200 million on lobbying – each year – to control, delay or block binding climate-change policies, according to a new report. And the UK is – unfortunately – a world leader.

The report by InfluenceMap, who track lobbying activity internationally, says the biggest spenders are British-incorporated companies.

BP – headquartered in the UK – has the highest annual expenditure on climate lobbying at $53 million. It is followed by the UK-incorporated, Anglo-Dutch company Shell at $49 million, according to the report, ‘Big Oil’s Real Agenda on Climate Change’.

They are followed by US-firm Chevron and French company Total, who are reported to each spend around $29 million every year.

While company disclosures of spending on climate lobbying and branding are very limited, InfluenceMap devised a methodology using public disclosures and intensive research of corporate messaging to evaluate oil major spending, aimed at influencing the climate agenda, both directly and through trade groups.

Rosie Rogers, Climate Campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said:

“The next time you’re worrying about the climate emergency we’re now up to our necks in, and you feel reassured by an advert from an oil major bigging up their vital role in the energy transition, it’s important to remember these figures and what they reveal about big oil’s real role in the energy transition – blocking it.”

Rachel Kennerley, international climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, told Left Foot Forward:

“BP and Shell are in the top ten companies driving the climate crisis. Their lobbying spend recalls big tobaccos’ attempts to conceal the damaging health links between the product they were flogging and health. The difference with climate change is every single person on the planet will be affected.”

“Put simply the worst polluters, those most responsible for causing climate change, need to foot the bill.

“Yet big oil are actively funding the opposite of what is needed. Buying influence, slowing and reversing progress, making eye-watering profits along the way, not to mention the connections to human rights abuses just makes it crystal clear who the real enemies of a cleaner, greener future are.”

A spokesperson for BP said:

“We disagree with both the basis and conclusions of this report. BP’s position on climate change and the energy transition is public, clear, and consistent. We are committed to helping to solve the dual challenge of providing more energy with fewer emissions, playing our part in the transition to a low carbon future.

“To that end, we support well-designed regulations, including efficient and effective proposals for carbon pricing and methane management. However, we also often work to improve poorly-designed or inefficient proposals and that does not in any way diminish our support of the Paris goals or commitment to helping drive the energy transition.”

Shell were also contacted for comment.

Read the InfluenceMap report here.

Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.

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