Five Big Oil supermajors are spending a cumulative $750m annually on PR campaigns to portray themselves as proactive on climate action, despite investing much less in green energy than what is required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, find researchers at UK think tank InfluenceMap.
The new report, published this month, finds that while 60% of public communications coming from BP, Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies contained at least one form of ‘green’ claim, only 12% of their capital expenditure is invested in ‘low-carbon’ technologies which, in the case of Shell and TotalEnergies, includes natural gas investments.
Except for TotalEnergies, each corporation has engaged policymakers directly to promote regulations that would encourage the production of additional oil and gas in the years 2021–22, according to the report. Additionally, each company maintains affiliations in a vast network of business associations that actively attempt to thwart or weaken climate policies, says InfluenceMap.
The biggest disparity between Big Oil’s ‘green’ PR claims and investment was for Shell, followed by ExxonMobil. Chevron used more pro-oil and gas messages (37%) than any of its competitors.
“The world’s big oil and gas companies are spending huge amounts of time and money talking up their ‘green’ credentials, while their business investments and lobbying activities tell a very different story,” said InfluenceMap’s programme manager Faye Holder at the launch of the report. “While this PR strategy might convince some people, it doesn’t change the fact that these companies are out of step with science-based pathways to net zero.”
None of the companies have aligned their climate policy engagement activities with the goals of the Paris Agreement, says InfluenceMap, which further notes it is anticipated that several of them will actually increase oil and gas output through 2026.
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In addition, despite methane mitigation being a prominent Big Oil claim, none of the assessed companies have lobbied for rules governing methane reduction since 2021, the research finds.