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19th Sep 2020

Gas and oil spent €250m lobbying EU

  • Investment in gas and oil continues despite growing awareness of climate emergency (Photo: European Parliament)

The fossil fuel industry pumped €250m into lobbying the EU in the past 10 years to water down climate friendly laws and targets, according to a new report.

"A cool quarter of a billion over the last decade buys a lot of access and influence in Brussels," said Pascoe Sabido of Corporate Europe Observatory, a Brussels-based NGO, and one of the authors of the report.

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  • Climate activist Greta Thunberg at European Parliament (Photo: European Parliament)

Published on Thursday (24 October), the report says energy giants including BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and Total have alone spent €123m between 2010 and 2018.

Another €128m was spent over the same time by fossil fuel-related lobby groups.

And Sabido, in a statement, accused Shell and BP of sabotaging EU action on the climate emergency due to their activities.

Capture and storage

A similar statement was issued by Sebastian Mang, climate policy adviser for Greenpeace EU and another co-author of the report.

Mang said governments needed to hold big oil and gas to account for "causing death and destruction in exchange for eye-watering profits".

He also told this website that Greenpeace wanted to move towards 100 percent renewable energy in Europe as soon as possible in a move supported by close to 200 other NGOs who are also demanding political institutions stop bargaining with the fossil industry altogether.

Mang said efforts such as capture and storage (CCS) technology were nothing but an industry-led initiative that aimed to keep their fossil fuel business model intact.

"The industry really likes CCS because it means they can continue with their business model without having to transition away from fossil fuels towards something else," he said, noting that governments had since invested a lot of money in the technology but with little to show for it.

CCS also has its advocates inside the European Parliament, including British liberal MEP Chris Davies.

The report accused Davies of acting like an industry mouthpiece for the technology, given his current efforts to set up a so-called European CCS advocacy group.

It said he featured on ads displayed in the Brussels metro paid for by lobby group GasNaturally and that he also worked as a consultant at international PR firm Fleishman Hillard.

For his part, Davies said he supported technology to capture CO2, noting he had no love for the industry backers and had never taken their money directly or indirectly.

In an email to this website, he described the fossil fuel industry as "a bunch of lying duplicitous bastards that spout greenwash while avoiding serious advocacy that could bring about policy improvement."

BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and Total

Those companies included BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and Total which raked in some €74bn in profits in 2018 alone, paying their chief executives tens of millions in salaries.

The report also said the lobbying and its spending peaked in 2014 when the EU was agreeing its 2030 climate and energy targets.

Combined, the firms and their consultancy groups have some 200 lobbyists working in Brussels to bend legislation in their favour and managed to secure 327 official meetings with EU commissioners, their cabinets, and director-generals since late 2014.

Among them was petrochemicals industry trade association Cefic, which alone spent €75m on lobbying since 2010.

Cefic's director general Marco Mensink confirmed the figure, saying the money had gone to other lobbying issues aside from climate and energy.

"It is simply not true to claim that Cefic is pursuing 'climate-destructive' lobbying," he said in an email.

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