Brussels – The world’s five big oil and gas majors and their lobbyists have spent at least 251 million euro lobbying the EU since 2010, new research reveals – as almost 200 civil society organisations demand fossil free politics.

Investigations show that BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and Total – the world’s five biggest publicly-traded oil and gas companies – and their lobby associations, currently employ 200 lobbyists in Brussels. They have held 327 high level meetings with top European Commission officials since European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker took office in 2014. That is the equivalent of more than one meeting a week to influence EU climate and energy decision-making.

The research was commissioned by Corporate Europe Observatory, Food & Water Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, and Greenpeace EU, as part of a campaign calling for ‘fossil free politics’, supported by organisations in Brussels, Europe and worldwide. The data was obtained from companies’ own declarations in the EU’s lobby transparency register and European Commissioners’ published calendars of meetings. [1]

As fossil fuel companies face increasing scrutiny, [2] the groups call on the European Commission’s new President and Commissioners, MEPs, and governments to cut fossil fuel interests out of politics, wit restrictions similar to those on tobacco industry lobbyists. [3]

Fossil fuel industry lobbyists in Brussels and national capitals have, according to the groups, succeeded in delaying, weakening, and sabotaging EU action on the climate emergency – having watered down renewable energy, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas targets, while securing lucrative fossil fuel subsidies. This lobbying effort has helped contribute to the top five oil and gas companies’ US$82 billion in profits last year. Those same companies were responsible for 7.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions between 1988 and 2015.

Pascoe Sabido, researcher and campaigner for Corporate Europe Observatory said: “Big polluters like Shell, BP and their lobby groups have delayed, weakened and sabotaged EU action on the climate emergency thanks to their hefty lobby spending. A cool quarter of a billion over the last decade buys a lot of access and influence in Brussels.”

Frida Kieninger, campaign officer for Food & Water Europe said: “Having tobacco lobbyists negotiating our public health laws is unthinkable today – and that’s just how we must treat fossil fuel lobbyists. Ending private meetings, cosy events and revolving doors can shut vested fossil fuel interests out of policy-making on the climate
crisis.”

Myriam Douo, corporate capture campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: “Gas, oil and coal companies are spending millions to maintain their stranglehold on our politics and our energy. But the climate can no longer afford their delay tactics. We must listen to the millions of young climate protesters on our streets and cut fossil fuels out of our politics now.”

Sebastian Mang, climate policy adviser for Greenpeace EU said: “Big oil and big gas are causing death and destruction in exchange for eye-watering profits. But millions of people are calling them out, as they face trial for their role in fuelling the climate emergency and trampling on human rights. It’s time our governments hold them to account.”

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For more information, contact:

Robbie Blake, communications team, Friends of the Earth Europe, robbie.blake@foeeurope.org , (+32) (0)2 893 1010, (+32) (0)491 290096

Pascoe Sabido, Researcher and Campaigner, Corporate Europe Observatory, pascoe@corporateeurope.org , (+44) (0)7969 665 189

Frida Kieninger, campaigns officer, Food & Water Europe, fkieninger@fweurope.org , (+32) (0)487 249905

Sebastian Mang, climate policy adviser, Greenpeace European Unit, sebastian.mang@greenpeace.org , (+32) (0)479 60 12 89

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Notes:

[1] Companies’ declarations of spending on lobbying in Brussels are voluntary and likely to underestimate real costs.

[2] BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, Total and other oil and gas companies are facing increasing scrutiny:
● On Wednesday 23 October, the US Congress holds a hearing ‘examining the oil industry’s efforts to suppress the truth about climate change’ https://docs.house.gov/Committee/Calendar/ByEvent.aspx?EventID=110126 ;
● In the Philippines, the Commission on Human Rights is investigating 47 fossil fuel companies (including the five companies above) for human rights impacts resulting from climate change https://www.greenpeace.org/philippines/press/3374/worlds-first-climate-change-and-human-rights-liability-inquiry-nears-closure/ ;
● In the Netherlands, Shell faces a court case to compel the company to cease its destruction of the climate http://www.foeeurope.org/see-you-in-court-Shell-05041 ;
● In New York, the Supreme Court started a trial looking into claims that Exxon misled investors about climate change https://www.climateliabilitynews.org/2019/09/10/exxon-climate-fraud-courts-lawsuits/ .

[3] The WHO’s framework convention on tobacco control includes measures to restrict tobacco industry lobbying https://www.who.int/fctc/guidelines/article_5_3.pdf