Nonprofit Maps Corporate Fossil Fuel Lobbying Efforts

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Originally published on Gas2.

We hear a lot these days about how fossil fuel companies are spending large amounts of money to influence policy and legislative decisions. The parallels between the “see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil” tactics the tobacco industry perfected over several decades and the concerted efforts employed by the fossil fuel industry are shocking. In essence, companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to convince people that burning fossil fuels is completely safe and has no impact on the global climate.

InfluenceMap-1

But some people are visual learners. Present them with a long and detailed article about the chicanery practiced by the fossil fuel sector and their eyes start to glaze over. They need to see it laid out in graphics that make the point abundantly clear. Enter InfluenceMap.org, a non-profit based in the UK that specializes in making precisely the kind of graphics people need in order to see how they are being bamboozled by the oil companies. According to its website, InfluenceMap.org exists “to map, analyze and score the extent to which corporations are influencing climate policy and legislation worldwide.”

The graphic above traces how much money ExxonMobil and Shell spend each year to hype their business model. It also traces the money that flows from the American Petroleum Institute. Combined with the dollars coming from a few other major players, the total amounts to $114 million annually that goes to currying political favor and sponsoring misleading advertising. “Extrapolated over the entire fossil fuel and other industrial sectors beyond, it is not hard to consider that this obstructive climate policy lobbying spending may be in the order of $500m annually,” the group says. It’s entire report is available online.

“To come up with its numbers, Influence Map first had to define what ‘influence’ actually means. The researchers adopted a framework spelled out in a 2013 UN report written to help companies align their climate change policies with their lobbying and communications strategies. It’s a broad approach to understanding influence that includes not only direct lobbying, but also advertising, marketing, public relations, political contributions, regulatory contacts and trade associations,” writes Bloomberg News.

Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org says, “There’s a shamelessness here that hopefully will be harder to maintain in the full light of day. It’s remarkably useful to see exactly how much Exxon and its brethren are still spending to bend the climate debate.” Vermont’s governor Peter Shumlin adds, “We now know that Exxon knew about climate change impacts for decades and kept the public in the dark while they lobbied to prevent meaningful action.”

“This report shows that while the world came together in Paris to embrace climate action in 2015, Exxon was doubling down with Big Tobacco tactics and obstruction. We cannot change this corporation by engaging with it, we must instead bring change from the outside by using economic pressure and divesting from Exxon.”

For you visual learners out there, now you know how much the oil industry is spending so it can continue to rape and pillage the earth in pursuit of profits. All this money is included in the enormous subsidies the fossil fuel companies collect every year for the nations of the world. Armed with this information, perhaps you will now add your voice to the call for colleges, universities, pension funds, and other institutional investors to divest themselves of fossil fuel company securities.

Reprinted with permission.


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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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