A newly released study from the UK-based, non-profit InfluenceMap reveals that just 5 oil industry entities collectively spend an estimated nearly $115 million every year through lobbying and influence to obstruct climate policy. And the report’s team considers this a conservative estimate. Topping the list are the American Petroleum Institute (API) ($65 mill), ExxonMobil ($27 mill) and Shell ($22 mill). The new assessment is built from InfluenceMap’s September 2015 release of a much larger assessment of 100 leading industrial corporations and 30 powerful trade associations.
This study, which also included the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA), is no stab in the dark exercise. InfluenceMap offers an open platform and transparent methodology, and utilizes well-established data sources of publicly available information, along with original research. A big reason InfluenceMap’s analysis is considered conservative is that it can’t count the monies these entities direct to anti-climate think tanks. Current disclosure requirements mean that information doesn’t have to be made public.
In addition to direct lobbying, the assessment covers the multiple ways corporations exert influence in today’s world – advertising, PR, social media, and access to certain circles. The application of these methods toward climate science and policy in the U.S. has been well documented.
InfluenceMap’s performance rankings are reported in grades A+ through F. Each entity’s grade is based on both its direct influencing efforts as well as its strength of relationships with policy influencers (e.g., trade associations, chambers of commerce, and advocacy groups) and the importance of those influencers. The results? API, WSPA, and APPEA all got Fs, ExxonMobil got an E-, and Shell received a D-.
This report is designed to help investors assess and manage climate risk. It also assists shareholders seeking corporate change, and climate-progressive corporations seeking competitive advantage. For advocates of climate-smart policy, it may advance the effort to quench fossil fuel’s already smoldering fire.