Having been originally the Climate Change Deniers, the oil companies have now become the Delayers. The largest five oil and gas companies spend nearly $200m (£153m) a year lobbying to delay, control or block policies to tackle climate change. Chevron, BP and ExxonMobil were the main companies leading the field in direct lobbying to push against a climate policy to tackle global warming. They are using social media to successfully push their agenda to weaken and oppose any meaningful legislation to tackle global warming. In the run-up to the US midterm elections last year $2m was spent on targeted Facebook and Instagram ads by global oil giants and their industry bodies, promoting the benefits of increased fossil fuel production. Separately, BP donated $13m to a campaign, also supported by Chevron, that successfully stopped a carbon tax in Washington state – $1m of which was spent on social media ads.
After the Paris climate agreement in 2015 the large integrated oil and gas companies said they supported a price on carbon and formed groups like the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative which promote voluntary measures. But, the report states, there is a glaring gap between their words and their actions. ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and Total – now spend about $195m a year on branding campaigns suggesting they support action against climate change. But the report said these campaigns were misleading the public about the extent of the oil companies’ actions because while publicly endorsing the need to act, they are massively increasing investment in a huge expansion of oil and gas extraction. In 2019 their spending will increase to $115bn, with just 3% of that directed at low carbon projects.
Edward Collins, the report’s author, who analysed corporate spending on lobbying, briefing and advertising, said: “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.”
The successful lobbying and direct opposition to policy measures to tackle global warming have hindered governments globally in their efforts to implement policies after the Paris agreement to meet climate targets and keep warming below 1.5C.
Those who, at this critical juncture in the history of humanity, ties the world’s people to the fate of the capitalist class profits, would lead us to ecological doom. The Socialist Party says that capitalism is the cause of the climate change crisis. We propose the abolition of the system. Were it not for our conviction that the present, like every previous world-order, must pass away the current state of the planet would leave upon us an unsettled pessimism.