Oil giants’ shell-deep pollution pledge

Royal Dutch Shell vowed last September to reach net-zero carbon pollution in its business by 2050. This noble goal seemed more realistic when the corporation announced earlier this month that its crude oil production had peaked in 2019. While this reflects Shell’s move away from directly opposing the global warming movement, the oil giant continues to fund a network of lobbying groups that fight climate policies. Its activity includes lobbying for a controversial federal rule on fossil fuel financing that the Trump administration introduced in its final days, according to documents reviewed by the investigative journalism outfit SourceMaterial and HuffPost. In his last week as President, Donald Trump ruled that banks must be “objective” and “impartial” in choosing which companies they finance; a way to cut through leading banks’ own standards in lending selectively. Since introducing such policies, major banks stopped financing companies drilling for oil in the Arctic or mining coal. President Joe Biden scrapped the rule, among all the others that Trump had not yet been published in the Federal Register, with an executive order on his first day in office. Comments on the rule submitted to the OCC show that the Independent Petroleum Association of America, of which Shell is a member, lobbied for the it. In its December comments, the IPAA claimed that banks have caved to “political pressure to limit capital to an essential energy industry.” The group argued that environmental groups have “distorted” the damage to the environment caused by methane emissions, “trying to suggest it poses an unreasonable threat.” Shell calls methane “a potent greenhouse gas” on its website, noting that “released into the atmosphere[,] it has a much higher global warming impact than CO2.” A spokesperson for Shell said the company does not have a position on the bank financing rule and did not “directly consult with IPAA on its correspondence to the comptroller.” Asked about the clash between Shell’s public statements on methane and the IPAA’s downplaying of the threat, the spokesperson said the company has “no expectations [trade associations] will be monolithic in their platforms or advocacy approach,” but insisted that Shell expresses its position on methane within trade associations to which it belongs.

British think tank InfluenceMap said the company’s funding for groups such as the American Petroleum Institute, the United States’ largest oil and gas lobby, was “at odds with the stated ambitions of Shell.”

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Despite Its Pledges, Shell Funded Anti-Climate Lobbying Last Year, HuffPost, 2021-02-25

by Lukas Frisch Tonkinson.

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