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BP Plc will leave three U.S. oil-industry lobby groups due to differences on climate policy, after the company’s new chief pledged to eliminate its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The decision, which follows similar moves by Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total SA, seeks to address a contradiction at the heart of many oil companies’ climate pledges, which sometimes ran contrary to the political lobbying of industry groups of which they were members.
“Some in society have lost trust in BP and the industry more widely because of seeming inconsistencies between public statements and lobbying and advocacy,” the company said in a statement Feb. 26.
BP leaves three trade associations over climate change differences— BP (@BP_plc) February 26, 2020
The company will withdraw from the Western Energy Alliance because of differences over the regulation of methane emissions, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. It will also quit the Western States Petroleum Association and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, which don’t agree with BP on carbon pricing.
Earlier this month, BP set out the boldest climate plan of any major oil company, pledging to eliminate almost all of the carbon emissions from its operations and the fuel it sells to customers. While BP CEO Bernard Looney said he didn’t quite know how to achieve this goal, he highlighted a reappraisal of lobbying as one of the first steps in the process.
The decision to withdraw from the lobby groups underlines BP’s net zero commitment, said David Elmes, an energy expert at the Warwick Business School. “How fast BP’s capital investment shifts to low-carbon businesses is yet to be seen.”
AFPM’s President and CEO Chet Thompson said that the group was disappointed with BP’s decision despite the group’s commitment to climate change policies. “Because of that, it leads us to assume that this decision was made based on factors other than our actual positions on the issues.”
WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd said the group would continue to work with BP and stakeholders “to engage in a civil public discourse around creating a sustainable energy future.”
BP reviewed the policy positions of 30 trade associations and concluded that 22 are aligned with the company’s goals, five were partially aligned and three weren’t aligned.
“Where our views and those of an association cannot be reconciled, then we recognize that it may be better if BP withdrew its membership,” Looney said in the statement. “We have to earn back people’s trust.”
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