US oil giants top list of lobby offenders holding back climate action
Report into lobbying tactics names ExxonMobil and Chevron as worst, while carmaker Toyota takes third
ExxonMobil and Chevron are the world’s most obstructive organisations when it comes to governments setting climate policies, according to research into the “prolific and highly sophisticated” lobbying ploys used by the fossil fuel industry.
The biggest US oil companies, as well as American Petroleum Institute, a lobby group, were found to be the worst offenders in a global report by lobbying experts at the thinktank InfluenceMap. It concluded that companies were manipulating governments to take “incredibly dangerous paths” in their approach to climate action.
Oil giants have mounted “intense resistance” to Joe Biden’s green agenda, according to the report, as the US president’s administration attempted to shift the country away from fossil fuels.
The report was published on Thursday before talks at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. It also came a week after ExxonMobil’s chief executive, Darren Woods, was accused of lying to the US Congress when he denied that the company had covered up its own research about oil’s contribution to the climate crisis.
The report said corporate lobbying tactics in part explained why regulators in some countries such as Australia have struggled to build support for more ambitious climate policy in the lead-up to Cop26 and were increasingly viewed as “a road block in global negotiations”.
Toyota was the worst-ranked carmaker and the third overall in the report, which drew from more than 50,000 of pieces of evidence, covering hundreds of the world’s most significant firms and trade groups, to analyse corporate climate lobbying activities.
The report put Toyota among some of the worst polluting companies in the world because of its opposition to phase out deadlines for fossil fuel and hybrid vehicles.
Ed Collins, a director at InfluenceMap, said it was clear that the transition to a clean energy future would remain extremely challenging until governments took meaningful action to tackle “the obstructive and anti-science lobbying of vested interests from fossil fuel value chain sectors”.
“The corporate playbook for holding back climate policy has come a long way from science denialism but it is every bit as damaging,” he said. “What we are seeing is not limited to efforts to undermine regulations directly. It also involves prolific and highly sophisticated narrative capture techniques, leading governments down incredibly dangerous paths.”
The thinktank’s report noted a strong shift among many fossil fuels companies towards pro-gas lobbying and away from coal. This includes lobbying from BP, which was ninth on the global list, the Austrian energy company OMV, which was 10th, and the Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom, which was 17th.
A spokesperson for Exxon said: “There are competing views about how best to address the risks of climate change. ExxonMobil supports certain climate policies and opposes others. But it would be a mistake to equate such policy disagreements with promotion of climate ‘disinformation.’”
Chevron and Toyota were also contacted for comment.
4 November 2021