Oil And Gas Giants Spend Millions Lobbying To Block Climate Change Policies
By Niall McCarthy for Forbes magazine
Every year, the world's five largest publicly owned oil and gas companies spend approximately $200 million on lobbying designed to control, delay or block binding climate-motivated policy. This has caused problems for governments seeking to implement policies in the wake of the Paris Agreement which are vital in meeting climate change targets. Companies are generally reluctant to disclose such lobbying expenditure and late last week, a report from InfluenceMap used a methodology focusing on the best available records along with intensive research of corporate messaging to gauge their level of influence on initiatives to halt climate change.
BP has the highest annual expenditure on climate lobbying at $53 million, followed by Shell with $49 million and ExxonMobil with $41 million. Chevron and Total each spend around $29 million every year. InfluenceMap states that part of the lobby spend goes towards sophisticated efforts to engage politicians and the general public on environmental policies that could impact fossil fuel usage. A recent example of this is BP coordinating messages across its social media channels and advertising platforms that reframe the climate crisis as a "dual" energy challenge.
The research also found that the five companies listed support their lobbying expenditures with a financial outlay of $195 million annually for focused branding activities which suggest they support action against climate change. The most common tactics employed are drawing attention to low carbon, positioning the company as a climate expert and acknowledging climate concern while ignoring solutions. The report said that the campaigns are misleading the public given that the companies listed continue to expand their oil and gas extraction activities with only 3% of spending directed to low carbon projects. Both Shell and Chevron rejected the report's findings and reinforced their commitment to reducing greenhouse gases and addressing climate change
In Missouri, Langston Farmer Richard Oswald told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch his 160 acre farm is so besieged by water that he left. He doesn’t expect to return for a couple of weeks. “I’m no youngster,” Oswald said. “I'm 69 years old. I've lived here all my life. And I've never seen weather like this.”
−Midwest reeling from ‘bomb cyclone’ by John Bacon USA TODAY/Knoxville News Sentinel March 28, 2019
There's a 99.9999 percent chance that humans are the cause of global warming, a new study reported Monday. This means we've reached the "gold standard" for certainty, a statistical measure typically used in particle physics. Humanity burns fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas, which release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the Earth's atmosphere and oceans. CO2 is the greenhouse gas that's most responsible for warming.
Study lead author Benjamin Santer of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory told Reuters that “the narrative out there that scientists don’t know the cause of climate change is wrong." With only a one-in-a-million chance that humans aren't the cause, it's obvious that we need to dramatically reduce our emissions of carbon dioxide, experts say. “We can’t afford to ignore such clear signals,” said Stephen Po-Chedley, a study co-author, referring to the past four decades of satellite measurements that plainly show increasing temperatures.
While not at 99 percent, the American public is getting on board with the issue: A poll last year from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that 62 percent of Americans say that "global warming is caused mostly by human activities." This was a rise in 47 percent from five years earlier.
The most recent report from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released in 2013, put the likelihood at 95 percent. That report said that in the Northern Hemisphere, the years 1983–2012 were likely the warmest 30-year period of the past 1,400 years.
Yes, the weather has gotten weirder lately, but since we're getting used to it, we think it's normal. Who cares? Well, this means we may not recognize how dramatically and how fast the climate is changing around us, a new study suggests.
“There’s a risk that we’ll quickly normalize conditions we don’t want to normalize,” said study lead author Frances C. Moore of the University of California - Davis. “We are experiencing conditions that are historically extreme, but they might not feel particularly unusual if we tend to forget what happened more than about five years ago.”
It's similar to the "boiling frog" metaphor, which describes a frog not jumping out of slowly warming water, even though the increasing heat eventually kills him.
Moore and his research team analyzed more than 2 billion weather-related tweets and found that people have very short memories when it comes to weather: On average, people base their idea of "normal" weather on what's happened in just the past two to eight years.
"We estimate that it takes five years for changes in temperature to become completely unremarkable," Moore and her co-authors wrote in the Washington Post. In the Twitter posts, which were written between March 2014 and November 2016, scientists found that people tweet a lot when temperatures are unusual: a strangely warm March or unexpectedly freezing winter, for example.