Energy Companies Spent Millions Influencing Climate Policy Over Last Two Years

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Not for the first time, big energy companies have been caught spending millions trying to influence UK and European policy, including greenhouse gas regulations.

The extent of the lobbying by the world’s largest companies listed in the FTSE 100 was revealed in The Times this weekend.

Shell and BP are the biggest spenders of all FTSE 100 companies, collectively spending around £6 million over the past two years.

That includes spending on “intense lobbying” of “recent emissions legislation”, according to an analyst from transparency campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory, which spoke to The Times.

This is despite FTSE companies declaring less than £10,000 of European political and lobbying spending in their annual accounts, The Times claimed.

BP and Shell have a significant interest in the way policymakers choose to regulate the industry.

Documents previously obtained by DeSmog UK showed the extent of BP and Shell’s privileged access and “strategic” relationship with the UK government.

The companies recently received part of a £500 million government handout designed to “maximise economic recovery” of North Sea oil and gas.

The government is currently reviewing other ways to incentivise companies to continue drilling in the region’s ever-depleting oil fields, with the industry asking for ever more generous tax breaks to keep them there and help decommission wells when they are finished.

BP and Shell both have a stake in these reforms, with the famous Brent oilifled that the companies co-own due to be decommissioned over the coming years.

Big six energy company Centrica was also named in The Times investigation.

Centrica co-owns a shale gas license in Preston New Road in Lancashire, with partner Cuadrilla.

The companies last week saw Communities Secretary Sajid Javid's decision to overrule the local council to force through the companies’ planning application upheld by the High Court. The companies now hope to make the site the first to successfully frack for shale gas in the UK in “a couple of months”.

DeSmog UK and thinktank InfluenceMap previously revealed how energy companies funnel money in the UK parliament through the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Unconventional Oil and Gas.

Centrica donated £2,500 to the APPG in 2016, with the Times calculating its total UK lobbying spend at £4,791 over the past two years. The UK’s grid operator, National Grid, also gave £55,035 to two APPG’s over the past two years, according to The Times — to groups on carbon monoxide and corporate responsibility.

Several big financial players have also donated large sums.

HSBC spent around €1.75 million on European lobbying and a further £11,000 funding the APPG on China. It continues to bankroll the controversial Dakota Access and Kinder Morgan pipelines, DeSmog UK previously revealed.

Insurance giant Aviva, which gave £3,595 to the APPG on Transport Safety and spent €0.8 million on lobbying policymakers in Brussels, likewise holds stock in the companies behind the pipelines.

Barclays also has a stake in the pipelines, and spent more than €1.5 on European lobbying. The company also owns Third Energy, which has a licence to frack in Ryedale, Yorkshire.

Main image credit: Geraly via Pixabay CC.0

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