BP Cutting Ties With Three U.S. Lobby Groups Over Climate Policies

Oil giant BP said it will sever links with three United States-based trade associations, including the country’s main refining lobby, because of disagreements over their climate-related policies and activities. The decision comes after the United Kingdom oil corporation’s new chief executive, Bernard Looney, set an ambitious target to shrink its carbon footprint to net zero by 2050. To achieve this, BP will have to cut more greenhouse gas emissions every year than the amount produced by the whole of the UK.

BP said it would pull out of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), following in the footsteps of Shell and France’s Total, which left the lobby group last April. It will also quit the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and the Western Energy Alliance (WEA).

Over the past six months, BP has conducted a review of how its climate crisis-related policies and activities compare with those of 30 trade associations. BP cited material differences in its views on carbon pricing in relation to the positions adopted by AFPM and WSPA. It will not renew its WEA membership because of significant differences around the federal regulation of methane.

Looney said: “BP will pursue opportunities to work with organizations who share our ambitious and progressive approach to the energy transition. And when differences arise we will be transparent. But if our views cannot be reconciled, we will be prepared to part company. My hope is that in the coming years we can add climate to the long list of areas where, as an industry, we work together for a greater good.”

The AFPM president and chief executive, Chet Thompson, said: “We are certainly disappointed with BP’s decision. We do not believe that BP’s trade association report accurately reflects AFPM’s position and commitment to finding solutions that address climate change.

“As an active member of our executive committee, BP knows full well that AFPM recognizes that climate change is real and that we are committed to engaging on and developing policies that enable our members to provide the fuels and petrochemicals that humanity needs to thrive in a sustainable way.”

BP has identified a further five organizations with which it is only partially aligned on the climate crisis, and has told them about these differences. They are the American Petroleum Institute, Australian Institute of Petroleum, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, National Association of Manufacturers, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The American Petroleum Institute has lobbied on behalf of oil companies to weaken the landmark U.S. environmental laws enshrined in the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act, which green groups fear will increase greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the climate crisis. BP also successfully lobbied U.S. policymakers directly for the regulation to be weakened.

A Guardian investigation revealed last year that five of the world’s largest oil and gas companies — ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP and Total — spend nearly $200 million every year on lobbying governments to block or water down climate policies. BP spent $53 million, including a $13 million campaign to successfully derail a proposed carbon tax in Washington state.

Mel Evans, a climate campaigner for Greenpeace UK, was not impressed. “Judge a company by the company they keep. BP are sticking with the American Petroleum Institute, the lobby group who wrecked Obama’s methane restrictions,” she said.

“When BP remains part of a group whose position they claim to oppose, it’s easier to get clarity on what they really think by looking at where their money is going – more oil, more gas, more climate change. This report appears to be tokenistic, inadequate and hypocritical – like all of BP’s climate plans that we’ve seen so far.”

—Julia Kollewe, The Guardian