Do the Math: Oil Giants spend $1 bn on Greenwashing PR, $100 bn on New Fossil Fuels


The term “greenwashing” was coined in the 1980s to describe outrageous corporate environmental claims. 

In the mid-1980s, oil company Chevron commissioned a series of expensive television and print ads to convince the public of its environmental bonafides. Titled People Do, the campaign showed Chevron employees protecting bears, butterflies, sea turtles and all manner of cute and cuddly animals.

The commercials were very effective – in 1990, they won an Effie advertising award, and subsequently became a case study at Harvard Business school. They also became notorious among environmentalists, who have proclaimed them the gold standard of greenwashing – the corporate practice of making diverting sustainability claims to cover a questionable environmental record.

The term greenwashing was coined by environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986, back when most consumers received their news from television, radio and print media – the same outlets that corporations regularly flooded with a wave of high-priced, slickly-produced commercials and print ads. The combination of limited public access to information and seemingly unlimited advertising enabled companies to present themselves as caring environmental stewards, even as they were engaging in environmentally unsustainable practices.

Three decades later, the practice has grown vastly more sophisticated.

Source: The Guardian


InfluenceMap’s research confirms a widely held suspicion that Big Oil’s glossy sustainability reports and shiny climate statements are all rhetoric and no action. These companies have mastered the art of corporate doublespeak – by boasting about their climate credentials while quietly using their lobbying firepower to sabotage the implementation of sensible climate policy and pouring millions into groups that engage in dirty lobbying on their behalf.

Catherine Howarth,  Chief Executive of ShareAction

Paris (AFP) – The five largest publicly listed oil and gas majors have spent $1 billion since the 2015 Paris climate deal on public relations or lobbying that is “overwhelmingly in conflict” with the landmark accord’s goals, a watchdog said Friday.

Despite outwardly committing to support the Paris agreement and its aim to limit global temperature rises, ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and Total spend a total of $200 million a year on efforts “to operate and expand fossil fuel operations,” according to InfluenceMap, a pro-transparency monitor.

Two of the companies — Shell and Chevron — said they rejected the watchdog’s findings.

“The fossil fuel sector has ramped up a quite strategic programme of influencing the climate agenda,” InfluenceMap Executive Director Dylan Tanner told AFP.

“It’s a continuum of activity from their lobby trade groups attacking the details of regulations, controlling them all the way up, to controlling the way the media thinks about the oil majors and climate.”

The report comes as oil and gas giants are under increasing pressure from shareholders to come clean over how greener lawmaking will impact their business models.

As planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions hit their highest levels in human history in 2018, the five companies wracked up total profits of $55 billion.

At the same time, the International Panel on Climate Change — composed of the world’s leading climate scientists — issued a call for a radical drawdown in fossil fuel use in order to hit the 1.5C (2.7 Fahrenheit) cap laid out in the Paris accord.

InfluenceMap looked at accounts, lobbying registers and communications releases since 2015, and alleged a large gap between the climate commitments companies make and the action they take.

It said all five engaged in lobbying and “narrative capture” through direct contact with lawmakers and officials, spending millions on climate branding, and by employing trade associations to represent the sector’s interests in policy discussions.“The research reveals a trend of carefully devised campaigns of positive messaging combined with negative policy lobbying on climate change,” it said.

It added that of the more than $110 billion the five had earmarked for capital investment in 2019, just $3.6bn was given over to low-carbon schemes.

Source: JuanCole

Today they are drilling in protected areas in all impunity…

They are increasingly using social media to successfully push their agenda.

In 2012, Total E&P Uganda accepted the challenge of working in Uganda’s largest protected area – the Murchison Falls National Park. Using environmentally friendly technology and our proven capability in developing oil resources in sensitive areas, we aim to create a project that shows how oil, environment and tourism can co-exist harmoniously.

Minimising impact on environment and biodiversity 

These technological innovations were developed to protect the specific ecosystem of the park, which is Uganda’s largest protected area covering 3840 km2. The park covers a Ramsar site, a key bird area. 451 bird species are present ranging from the rare Shoe-bill stork to the Dwarf kingfisher and Goliath Heron. The park contains 76 species of mammals as well as Uganda’s largest population of the Nile crocodile. It is home to the largest protected population of Rosthschild’s giraffes. It is also home to a recovering population of 950 elephants.

Source: Uganda Total 

One  wonders, how is it possible to promote oil exploration in protected areas like Murchison Falls National Park and to be taken seriously like a responsible company that has made climate an integral part of its strategy?

Who believes that?