This is the third part of DeSmog UK’s series mapping Exxon’s ties to EU think tanks and lobby groups. Here we explore the various Brussels lobby groups the oil giant is a member of. Read part 1 and part 2 here.
Pressure is mounting on ExxonMobil to explain why the oil giant funded climate denial around the world years after its own scientists established global warming was real.
Exxon has a long history of funding climate denial and last September it was revealed that it did so despite a full scientific knowledge about the impacts of manmade climate change in the 1970s’ and ‘80s.
This prompted the New York Attorney General to subpoena ExxonMobil to “determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how those risks might hurt the oil business.” A similar investigation has also been launched in California.
These revelations tell us what Exxon knew. The investigations in New York and California are asking ‘what did Exxon do?’
Exxon in the EU
So, while the oil giant has been getting a lot of heat in the U.S. for funding climate denial, this DeSmog UK investigation takes these questions across the Atlantic, and asks: what has ExxonMobil been up to in Europe?
In January, DeSmog UK revealed that Exxon spent at least £5.6m in 2014 on EU lobby efforts and corporate donations. But ExxonMobil is also a member of several European lobby groups that work to block action on climate change.
There are also several consultancies which currently declare ExxonMobil as a client. These include Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, Interel European Affairs, Burson-Marsteller, Fleishman-Hillard, Landmarks and G Plus Ltd. Membership fees range from £7,600 (€9,999) to £228,025 (€299,999) and are included in Exxon’s declared lobbying spend.
Here’s everything you need to know about the various lobby groups and trade associations that Exxon is a member of:
The refinery operations industry representatives (CONCAWE and FuelsEurope merged in 2013). According to the FuelsEurope website, CONCAWE “carries out research on environmental, health and safety issues relevant to the oil industry.”
According to the EU Transparency Register, FuelsEurope spent between £950,000 – £1.13m (€1.25m – €1.49m) lobbying the European Commission in 2014. Climate action, energy, environment, and transport are all listed among its many fields of interest. Some of the main EU initiatives the group follows include policies on air quality, biofuels, energy taxation, the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and the 2030 climate and energy policy framework.
FuelsEurope is known for taking a stance against climate action. As a report by the Policy Studies Institute at the University of Westminster details, the trade body has pitted climate action against competitiveness and argued that the EU shouldn’t take unilateral action on climate change.
International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP)
This group describes itself as the “voice of the upstream industry”. And like FuelsEurope, it too has taken anti-climate action stances on EU policy including Emphasising the threat of deindustrialisation, ‘carbon leakage’ and job losses as a result of climate action and support for the extraction of shale gas and ending support for renewables.
In 2014, the IOGP spent £1.38m (€1.82m) lobbying the European Commission. It describes its interests as “policy legislation concerning the exploration and production of oil and gas in Europe and globally. These include in particular general energy political, internal gas market as well as climate related and other environmental matters.”
On climate change, its website reads: “IOGP believes that the long term objective of climate change policy should be to reduce the risk of serious impacts on society and ecosystems, while recognizing the importance of reliable and affordable energy to society”.
In other words, “the oil and gas industry is very much a part of the solution to this challenge”.
In the IOGP’s November 2015 climate change policy briefing, entitled For your train ride to Paris – COP21 notes for the European Union climate negotiators, it lists four recommendations, including supporting a “truly global solution” and “market-based policies”.
Solutions must also “promote innovation and [be] science-based” and finally, “Remember: natural gas is part of the solution.”
It reads: “…we encourage European negotiators to make sure the Paris talks are based on sound science, as well as consideration of all relevant factors, including security of supply, affordability and international competitiveness.”
In a March 2014 letter to the European Council about the new climate and energy framework to 2030 being developed, the IOGP lists two recommendations which it believes should be the “centrepiece of such a long-term policy”.
Firstly, “the European Union should opt for one single greenhouse gas emissions reduction target”. And secondly, stressing security of supply and that natural gas is the “cleanest” fossil fuel, it says the purpose of such a policy should be in “guaranteeing access to new oil and gas resources”.
The European Association for the Promotion of Cogeneration (COGEN Europe)
This group works to promote the use of cogeneration (combined heat and power) as a sustainable form of energy.
According to the EU Transparency Register is has spent between £304,035 – £380,043 (€400,000 – €499,999) lobbying in Europe. Areas of interest include climate action, competition, energy, environment and research and technology. More specifically, it focuses on policies related to emissions trading, energy efficiency, renewable energy, smart grids and energy decentralisation as well as the circular economy.
European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC)
This group represents the chemical industry in Europe. They aim to “facilitate dialogue with industry and EU policy makers”.
In 2014, CEFIC declared a lobby spend of £7.6m (€10.1m). Some of the group’s main EU policy interests include energy market liberalisation, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the United Nation’s COP21 climate conference, carbon footprints, emissions trading, energy efficiency, the Energy Union, renewable energy, air quality and water quality.
CEFIC is part of two consultative committees: the European Energy Forum and the EU Expert Group on Future Transport Fuels. It is also involved in several EU Commission expert groups such as the Expert Group on Climate Policy for International Maritime Transport to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships under the European Climate Change Programme, and the Stakeholder Expert Group on the Review of EU Air Policy.
CEFIC is also included in the report by the Policy Studies Institute at the University of Westminster detailing trade bodies that work against climate action. Stances taken by CEFIC include arguing that the EU should not take unilateral action on climate change; Emphasising the threat of deindustrialisation, ‘carbon leakage’ and job losses as a result of climate action; and arguing that reforms to the EU Emission Trading System are undesirable.
American Chamber of Commerce to the EU (AmCham EU)
A strong focus for AmCham recently has been TTIP. It’s entry on the EU Transparency Register shows it has spent between £684,078 – £760,086 (€900,000 – €999,999) lobbying the Commission. It describes its interests as promoting the “value of global and free trade”.
AmCham EU supports “effective conclusion of ongoing trade talks” and “coherency between trade and other policy areas.” Specific EU policies of interest to the group include transport, energy, and competition. Climate action, energy and the environment are also listed as issues it’s interested in.
This is a huge trade association and is known for working against EU climate policies. For example, it is well-known for its efforts to dilute the EU environmental targets planned for post-2020. BusinessEurope has also pitted climate action against competitiveness, argued that the EU shouldn’t take unilateral action on climate change, and argued for supporting the extraction of natural gas while ending support for renewables.
In 2014, BusinessEurope spent between £3m – £3.23m (4m –€ 4.25m) lobbying the European Commission. Its entry in the lobby registry is quite simplistic, often just directing you to its website. When asked what the main EU initiatives, policies and legislative files are that it follows, it just states “all topics that matter to European companies.”
Among the main fields of interest listed for BusinessEurope is climate action, energy, environment, trade and transport. The group is also listed as a member of several EU Commission expert groups including the ongoing TTIP stakeholder advisory group, the Commission’s 2014 Expert Group on Environmental Footprint, and the 2010 Steering Group on Adaptation to Climate Change.
Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF)
As OCIMF’s website reads, the group’s mission “is to be the foremost authority on the safe and environmentally responsible operation of oil tankers, terminals and offshore support vessels, promoting continuous improvement in standards of design and operation.”
The latest figures for its EU lobby spend are for 2013 which is listed as between £152,017 – £228,025 (€200,000 – €299,999). OCIMF lists its fields of interest as including competition, energy, environment, foreign and security policy and defence, and transport.
Transatlantic Business Council
This group’s main focus is trade and investment issues. In 2013, the Council spent between £152,017 – £228,025 (€200,000 – 299,999) lobbying the EU Commission. EU initiatives and policies that it focuses on include TTIP, conflict minerals, cybersecurity, and energy efficiency.
The Transatlantic Business Council has a long history of involvement with the tobacco industry.
Set up in 1995 by the American Department of Commerce and the European Commission, the aim was for the Transatlantic Business Council to act as a go-between for business leaders and American cabinet secretaries and EU commissioners.
Within months of the Council opening, the Tobacco archives show the group wrote to British American Tobacco (BAT) for support. Both and BAT are current members of the group.
In 1998 Vickie Curtis from BAT attended a meeting of the European Policy Centre’s Forum on Risk. This meeting aimed to see how the science of risk as perceived by EU legislators might be influenced to be more favourable to corporate members of the EPC. The Transatlantic Business Council was noted as one means of influence.
British Chamber of Commerce Belgium
This long-established organisation was set up to nurture Anglo-Belgian trade relations. Its website boasts that it “can facilitate your relationships with the European policymakers and institutions that your business needs to reach.” You can find its entry on the lobby register here.
This is Europe’s association of plastics manufacturers. Like the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium, it does not have an entry on the EU Transparency Register.