Big oil companies spend millions of dollars to look ‘green’.Their investments tell a different story, report shows

The think tank analyzed 3,421 public relations materials for 2021 from five companies and found that 60% of messages contained at least one “green” claim.

InfluenceMap then calculated how much energy companies expected to spend on green investments last year, finding that on average only 12% of their capex budget was spent on what the companies themselves deem low-carbon or renewable activities. I understand.

In some cases, these numbers are rising. Shell, for example, has said it plans to spend his 12% of its capital spending on renewable energy this year, up from his 10% in 2021. The company also said that InfluenceMap’s analysis did not consider investments outside of the renewable energy and energy solutions sectors. – Investments in electric vehicle charging, biofuels, sustainable aviation fuels, etc. All of which climate scientists say are important as we move away from fossil fuels.

Still, InfluenceMap says the company’s imbalance between “green” messages and investments is striking.

InfluenceMap’s program manager Faye Holder told CNN that it appears to be part of a “systematic campaign to present ourselves in favor of climate change to the public.” rice field. “In the meantime, we are seeing continued investment in this unsustainable energy system, mostly fossil fuels.”

InfluenceMap also estimates that companies spend about $750 million cumulatively each year on climate-related communications efforts, based on the number of communications staff they employ. The think tank said in a statement that the figure does not include the costs of outside advertising and PR agencies, so the actual amount is likely to be “significantly higher.”

“It appears to be just an evolution of the tactics Big Oil is using to slow its response to climate change,” Holder said.

Overemphasis on green messages

According to InfluenceMap, five major oil companies “misrepresent their core business operations” by “overemphasizing energy transition technologies” and green campaigns in public relations.

The report revealed several different types of “green” claims oil and gas companies used in their 2021 publicity. The most popular of these emphasized support for efforts to move away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy.The second most popular claim focused on supporting emissions reductions. It was something.

Some of the companies’ greener claims have portrayed gas as a solution to climate change, according to the think tank. Methane — a major contributor to the climate crisis.

Of the five companies, Shell had the biggest mismatch between its environmental message and investment in “low-carbon” activities, followed by ExxonMobil, according to InfluenceMap.

Analysis showed that Shell used “green” claims in 70% of its messaging, but spent only 10% on low-carbon investments. Shell said this figure he expects to rise to 12% in 2022.

Exxon, on the other hand, made green claims in 65% of its messages, but spent 8% on green investments. “From now until 2027, he has invested more than $15 billion in low-emission initiatives,” ExxonMobil told his CNN. expected to triple.

Lobbying reveals interest in fossil fuels

InfluenceMap also noted that these five companies continue to push policy makers to lock fossil fuels into climate policy.

“The science is clear that we need to reduce our use of fossil fuels significantly and rapidly,” Holder told CNN. United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report“But what we’re seeing from these companies, especially the US and industry groups, is a push to include fossil gas and consider it a ‘green’ or low-carbon solution.”

The report notes that InfluenceMap “found evidence that each company, except TotalEnergies, is directly engaging policy makers to support policies that encourage new oil and gas development in 2021-2022.” says.

Shell told CNN that it is rapidly increasing its investment in the environment.
BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell are members of the American Petroleum Institute (API), a US industry association. Regulation to the contrary It aims to fight climate change.
The World Resources Institute, which was not involved in the analysis, found that major oil and gas companies have strategically used industry groups, including APIs, to participate in greenwashing — Deceptive advertising practices that make companies think their products are more climate friendly than they actually are.
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In its 2021 statement, WRI urged “all companies to reconsider their lobbying, political spending and participation in industry associations to ensure they are fully aligned with their official statements on climate change.” ” he said.

In a statement to CNN, a Shell spokeswoman said the company “has already invested billions of dollars in low-carbon energy.”

“The rapid growth of these new businesses is necessary to change the mix of energy that Shell sells,” said a spokeswoman. “This means that by informing customers of the low-carbon solutions we offer or are developing through advertising and social media, we can make the switch at the right time.”

An Exxon spokesperson told CNN that the company is aiming to have net-zero emissions from its operations by 2050, saying it hit its 2025 emissions reduction target four years early.

“ExxonMobil has invested more than $15 billion in low-emissions initiatives between now and 2027 and expects to triple its investment by 2025,” the spokesperson said in an email. . “This reflects our commitment to reducing our own emissions and our confidence in the market adoption of low-emission solutions such as: [carbon capture and storage], hydrogen and biofuels. “

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A TotalEnergies spokesperson said, “Our public policy reflects TotalEnergies’ transformation into a multi-energy company.” TotalEnergies also has the largest projected renewable energy capacity of any oil company analyzed. I also mentioned that the report shows that

CNN also reached out to BP and Chevron for comment, but did not receive a response.

“The world will need oil and gas for years to come,” said a Shell spokesperson. while ensuring that low-carbon alternatives are scaled up.”

However, the United Nations Environment Program points out that current global levels of oil and gas production will not meet the climate targets under the Paris Agreement.

“Governments around the world plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 that would be consistent with keeping warming to 1.5°C,” it said. UNEP’s Production Gap Report“Most major oil and gas producers plan to ramp up production in 2030 or beyond,” it added.
The International Energy Agency also reports that oil and gas companies must stop drilling now if the world wants to prevent a climate catastrophe. Investment in new fossil fuel supply projects must stop immediately. IEA in 2021new coal-fired power plants should not be approved.

soaring energy prices

Highlighting the relatively low level of corporate spending on green investments, InfluenceMap’s report shows that while energy prices soar in Europe, Big Oil continues to report high profits.

Energy prices have been rising in Europe since last fall, due to a surge in demand as countries lifted pandemic lockdowns. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its subsequent decline in Moscow’s 2022 oil and gas exports to Europe have pushed prices higher.
Then a perfect storm broke out Oil Industry Windfall Profits: The highest oil price in a decade, huge demand for refining crude oil so that it can be used as fuel, and a new government focus on energy security.

Exxon made a profit of about $17.9 billion between April and June. This is almost four times the profit we made in the same period in 2021. Shevron recorded his $11.6 billion profit, while Shell made his $11.5 billion.

CNN’s Anna Cooban and Julia Horowitz contributed to this report.


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