[Issue 083] How Big Oil Companies Spent $1B 💰
Good morning good people!
I've spent my week reading an exhilarating report about the lobbying efforts by oil and gas companies since the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, Big Oil’s Real Agenda on Climate Change.
It came out this month, and it highlights the ways in which the world's 5 largest publicly traded oil companies (ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP and Total) take actions that are not in line with their claims to support climate change policies.
The report focused on the two distinct ways these companies operate in conflict with the Paris Agreement: marketing and lobbying.
Here's what you should know:
The report alleges that these 5 companies have spent $1 BILLION on misleading climate-related branding and lobbying efforts in the past three years.
$200 million was spent per year on lobbying "designed to control, delay, or block binding climate-motivated policy." Chevron, BP and ExxonMobil have led the way on opposing progressive policies.
Leading up to the 2016 election, the industry spent $2 million on Facebook and Instagram ads that promoted the benefits of fossil fuel production in order to help defeat ballot initiatives addressing climate change.
These five companies spend millions of dollars branding themselves as climate-focused:
BP, for example, launched a new ad campaign in 2019 called "Possibilities Everywhere" to highlight its low carbon initiatives. However, the company (along with Chevron) directly lobbied for a rollback on US methane requirements in 2018. BP also donated $13 million in 2018 to successfully block a carbon tax policy in Washington state.
And these are just a few examples from the report.
But possibly more terrifying (and much more opaque) than each company's direct marketing and lobbying efforts is the role that trade associations play in opposing climate change policies. According to the report, the same five companies have contributed over $16 million to the most powerful oil and gas trade groups in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia.
In response to the report's findings, Shell and Chevron have stated their disagreement:
Shell said, “We firmly reject the premise of this report. We are very clear about our support for the Paris agreement, and the steps that we are taking to help meet society’s needs for more and cleaner energy. We make no apology for talking to policymakers and regulators around the world to make our voice heard on crucial topics such as climate change and how to address it.”
Chevron said, “Chevron is taking prudent, cost-effective actions and is committed to working with policymakers to design balanced and transparent greenhouse gas emissions reductions policies that address environmental goals and ensure consumers have access to affordable, reliable and ever cleaner energy.”
I'm willing to bet that none of this comes as a surprise to many of you, especially given that this has been a highly requested topic for me to cover. It is nice, however, to have some data.
If you have time, I highly recommend checking out the report yourself. [LINK]
Buuuuut if you're not nerdy like me and would rather not read the whole thing, then skip straight to page 22 and skim the company profiles which include specific actions each company and trade association have taken related to climate policy (along with a score).
That's where the tea is. 🐸☕
Not corporate responsibility related, but I just had to share this Twitter thread critiquing the 2020 Democratic candidates' campaign logos!. Here are my faves:
Why CEO Are Still Missing The Point On Social Impact
A survey of CEOs has shown that although American business leaders see and feel the increasing pressure to speak out on social issues, they admit they still would rather focus on the bottom line- selling their products or services. // FAST COMPANY
7 Companies Leading Their Industries in Water Stewardship
World Water Day was on March 22nd, and the theme was “leave no one behind.” On this day, the United Nations reminded the public that 780 million people do not have access to clean water. This article lists 7 companies leading in water stewardship, notably including Marriott, Ford Motor Company, and Microsoft. // TRIPLE PUNDIT
Goldman Sachs’ U.K. Women Earn Half as Much Per Hour As Men
Although the gap was as wide as 56% last year, Goldman Sachs has reported that it pays women an average of 50% less than their male counterparts. This gap widens to 66.7% percent when contained to year end bonuses. // BLOOMBERG
German Billionaire Family That Owns Einstein Bros. Bagels Admits Nazi Past
JAB Holdings, a private company that owns many global companies, like Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread, and Einstein Bros. Bagels, recently reported that upon research they uncovered that their family has a history of strong ties to the nazi party and use of forced labor. Albert Reimann Sr. and Jr., the past patriarchs of the family who passed in 1954 and 1984 respectively, were supporting the nazi party throughout their life. Furthermore, the company reported that French prisoners of war as well as Russian civilians were used as forced laborers in the families factories and private residences during and around World War II. The company is planning on giving $11M to charity that has not yet been determined. // WASHINGTON POST
Wells Fargo to Pay $13M To Settle Claims of Improperly Modifying Bankrupt Borrowers’ Mortgages
A class action lawsuit against Wells Fargo that accused them of “improperly unilaterally” modifying mortgages of borrowers who has declared bankruptcy, without their knowledge, has ended with Wells Fargo paying $13.5M tor resolve the claims. The fraud took place in 2018. // HOUSING WIRE
The Old Daytime-Drinking, Sexual Harassing Ways Are Thriving at Lloyd’s
Lloyd’s of London is a 331 year old insurance market that is described as the “most archaic corner remaining in global finance”. Inside the market, women are treated unfairly, and are sexually harassed constantly. A report by Bloomberg of 18 women who had worked at the company described Lloyd’s as an “atmosphere of near persistent harassment”. // BLOOMBERG
The Benefits of Female Leadership: Thinking Outside of the Box
Republic Services, a solid waste collection company based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has recently made strides in recruiting and hiring women. They have increased their female driver employment count from 0 to 65. When Sharon Mann, the general manager at Republic Services Baton Rouge, wanted to fill in a driver shortage, she decided that filling in the shortage with women could help prevent the problem in the future. Mann reached out to local women's services groups to find the existing female talent pool of experienced bus drivers who would transfer to the job well. Mann also notes that these new workers are exceptionally good at recruiting other experienced drivers as well. // TRIPLE PUNDIT
Most Mental Health Apps Lack Any Scientific Backing
A study published in Nature Digital Medicine reports that while 64% of the studied mental health apps claimed to be effective at diagnosing or self-managing various mental health conditions, only 14% described a real-world process, and only one had a citation for a credible source. // FAST COMPANY
This week's headlines were curated by ABL's badass intern, Lora.
“Oil majors’ climate branding sounds increasingly hollow and their credibility is on the line.”
Above the Bottom Line is funded by dope community members like you who pledge $1 or more per month to support its sustainability and growth.