Idiotic: InfluenceMap is arguing that Shell’s promotion of solar power is now “climate denial”

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InfluenceMap Continues Green Campaign to Dupe the Press on “Climate Denial”

by Steve Everley
energyindepth.org , Dallas, Tex.

A new report from a climate-focused advocacy group attempts to quantify spending on “obstructive climate policy lobbying,” estimating that fossil fuel companies may be spending upwards of $500 million per year to “influence” the debate. But a review of the group’s calculations and methods suggests that much of what the group defines as climate-related advocacy actually encourages emissions reductions, or has nothing to do with climate change.

The report, authored by the British group InfluenceMap, is also part of a broader, well-funded political campaign to label fossil fuel companies “deniers” in the press, based upon dubious and even contradictory assumptions that receive little if any scrutiny.

‘Climate Lobbying’

In a press release announcing its report, InfluenceMap accused two oil and natural gas companies (ExxonMobil and Shell) of “systematically trying to stall progress” on climate change. The group goes on to accuse these companies of “manipulating the public discourse,” using a quote from the radical environmentalist Bill McKibben (founder of 350.org) to support its claim. InfluenceMap claims to have conducted a “forensic analysis” of Internal Revenue Service filings and “careful study” of other public advocacy to arrive at its conclusions.

All told, InfluenceMap estimates that these companies, with support from the American Petroleum Institute, spend over $100 million every year on “climate lobbying.”

But the spreadsheet that InfluenceMap included with its report shows that what the group is saying publicly about its data is a deliberate misrepresentation.

For example, InfluenceMap groups together a series of ads released by Shell that focused on bringing power to developing countries. The ads ran in several different formats and languages, but each of them focused on the same general premise, highlighting the importance of energy access and using solar power or other renewable technologies to meet global energy needs.

But InfluenceMap argues that of the total spending on the ads ($24.7 million), 30 percent of it was “climate relevant,” meaning $7.5 million was allegedly earmarked to discuss climate change – even though the group admits in the spreadsheet that the ads don’t mention climate change. The group also claims an “obstructive factor” of 2.5 percent, meaning that – according to InfluenceMap – Shell spent $190,000 to “obstruct” action on climate change with these ads.

Think about that. A company produces ads showing how solar power can help meet the energy needs of developing countries, and InfluenceMap claims the ads are actually about preventing action on climate change. In other words, InfluenceMap is arguing that promoting solar power is now “climate denial.”

InfluenceMap claimed several other Shell ads were part of a climate denial strategy, including:

  • An ad discussing the right to energy access in Haiti, mentioning specifically solar and other renewable technologies.
  • An ad calling for making homes more energy efficient.
  • An ad calling for more solar energy in “frontier markets.”
  • An ad highlighting a biomass project in Uganda.

None of those ads even mentioned climate change, and all of them are calling for things that climate activist groups have been advocating for years. But InfluenceMap somehow claimed they represent $750,000 in spending to obstruct climate action.

Other items that InfluenceMap classified as influencing or even “obstructing” action on climate change include:

  • An ExxonMobil ad touting the company’s work on carbon capture and biofuels from algae.
  • Total spending on conferences, conventions, and meetings by the Western States Petroleum Association. InfluenceMap claims half (49%) of all these expenditures were “devoted to climate influence,” based entirely upon what WSPA lobbied for in the state legislature.
  • An ExxonMobil ad describing what hydraulic fracturing is.
  • A campaign by the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) called “Our Natural Advantage,” which highlights how important natural gas is to the Australian economy. InfluenceMap claims 62 percent of the campaign is “devoted to climate influence.” The word “climate” does not appear on the campaign’s home page or its About page.
  • Nearly half (46 percent) of API’s total spending on its employees’ salaries. InfluenceMap also claims that one-third of API’s entire operating budget is “geared towards opposing ambitious climate policy.”

The list goes on, but the common thread is that what InfluenceMap considers spending on “climate obstruction” largely consists of activities that (a) have nothing to do with climate change, or (b) advocate explicitly for renewables and other emissions-cutting technologies.

But so far, instead of scrutinizing these details, the press has simply swallowed what InfluenceMap fed them. Bloomberg News claimed that the activities listed above were about “blocking climate policies,” even though no objective review could possibly conclude such a thing. Bloomberg also repeated the group’s claims without scrutiny last September, when InfluenceMap made similar accusations about a wide range of companies that were not limited to fossil fuel producers.

Disagreement vs. Climate Denial

Unfortunately, InfluenceMap’s report is part of a broader environmentalist effort to label any criticism or disagreement as “climate denial,” based on a singular focus on attacking energy producers.

Late last year, a professor from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Justin Farrell, published a paper alleging that 160 so-called “climate counter movement” organizations were responsible for public denial of climate change. The school is funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, among other foundations, that also bankroll environmental activists like 350.org and InsideClimate News.

As EID highlighted at the time, Farrell’s definition of what it means to be a “climate denier” was either incredibly lazy or deliberately misleading. His list of deniers included groups that have advocated for carbon taxes, as well as an official advisory body to the U.S. Department of Energy. One of the “denial” organizations even teamed up with an environmental group to call attention to how “climate change threatens to put millions at risk.”

But as with the latest report from InfluenceMap, Farrell’s bogus definition of “climate denial” was never questioned by the reporters who covered his study. Bloomberg wrote that his study identified a “deep network of climate change deniers.” The Washington Post reported the study revealed how “corporate funding” was responsible for raising “doubts” about climate change.

Of course, little can be done about the stories that have already run, and which activists and other fossil fuel critics cheerfully shared on social media. But now that the media knows the truth, the question is: what will they do the next time they’re pitched a story about “climate deniers”?

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44 thoughts on “Idiotic: InfluenceMap is arguing that Shell’s promotion of solar power is now “climate denial”

  1. Before we bother with this, how much have the “Green” groups paid to promote theology?

    • Every dollar ever spent on Gaia.

      What needs to be done, is S.L.A.P.P. suit laws by government and activism groups associated in any way with a political party’s planks.

      This has been overlooked.

    • HOw come the MSM never EVER mentions the fact that the UNs original assertion
      Of 1990 was they, claimed the resu.lt oF theiR reviewing the worlds scientific
      Publications relating to MAN made CO2 while leaving natural causes wiThout
      Any mention at all!! ANd then they refused to reveal which publications led them to their
      Conclusions!! THerefore no Independent assessment oF their speculation was possible
      Because no evidence I’ve measure menus or experimental results were ever
      Corroborated!! IPso facto there is NO scientific case on behalf of the original UN
      Announcement. THis is called self certification. IT it not allowed in the commercial
      World …….”No need to look at our books mr auditor…I have already doNe it and they
      Are OK!!!!! THis action would attract legal sanctions!! NOt allowed in the DRug
      Certification and approval procedure either. BUt clearly OK for the Global Warming
      INdustry!!!

      [Please remember that your comments are read by many people, and they will only appear reasonable and credible if capitalization, quotes, grammar, references and spelling is correct. We can help, but only if an effort is made first. .mod]

  2. But now that the media knows the truth, the question is: what will they do the next time they’re pitched a story about “climate deniers”?

    “Nuttin’ honey.”

    • That is just the thing. These eco-zealots are losing the war and they know this. So they ask themselves why they are losing. They think that it cannot be because facts because, in their mind, CAGW is a proven fact. So they consider another possibility. Since they received massive amounts of money, they assume that the other side most also receive massive amounts of money. But if they knew how to do research, they would see the other side does not receive massive amounts of money. (Of course, if they knew how to do research they wouldn’t eco-zealots to begin with.)

      • The eco-zealots are winning the war. Evidence? That their every statement is parroted by the media. When the media start questioning, then the war momentum might change. Until then, the eco-zealots are winning.

      • You have to remember that liberals think the solution to everything is to throw money at it, spend, spend, spend. As they have no idea how to do honest debate using real science, they have to call other who disagree with them names and assume there is a lot of money behind “deniers.” That’s how their three-year-old mentality works, just as they tend to do anything that makes them feel good, even if it’s bad for everybody and the environment.

  3. Who the heck is InfluenceMap?

    Are the begging for acknowledgement like Desmog blog and hitchhiking on WUWT to gain notoriety?

    I am inclined to shun them.

    • They are leftist influence peddlers, and have absolutely no credibility.

      Leftists are, by their very nature, gullible and incapable of independent thought. They require someone to tell them what they think and what they believe. There are a nearly infinite number of groups ready and able to fill that need.

      • Leftists deal with the world on the basis of emotion, rather than unemotional objectivity. That’s why they get so worked up over everything. I think that is also why they tend to follow the crowd more than more independent thinkers.

        Leftists also think in stereotypes, and groups. Everybody is “this” or eveybody is “that”. All Republicans are racists, bigots and homophobes. The Leftists actually believe this, and really get worked up emotionally over it.

        It that were really true, it *would* be something to get worked up over, but, of course, all Republicans are not racists, bigots or homophobes, so then it becomes problematic, when the Leftists are operating under a false assumption. Which they usually are.

        Turmoil and Emotion. That’s your standard Leftist.

        I have good friends who are Liberals/Leftists but we don’t discuss politics because they cannot discuss politics unemotionally. But we have other things in common, so it works out even so.

      • The unmistakable sign that you’re dealing with true leftist liberals is when they exhibit what you could call The Neutrality Delusion. They have the idea stuck in their heads that their position is the neutral, objective one–the One True Worldview. That their conclusions are the only reasonable ones (Who died and gave them a monopoly on reasonableness?), so if you disagree, you must be either a) stupid, b) trolling, or c) paid to push an agenda. That they’ve made positive statements about reality that an honest debater is asking them to back up, is a thought that does not even register in their minds. Imagine a sports player operating under the false assumption that he’s the referee, then you pass him the ball.

      • “Imagine a sports player operating under the false assumption that he’s the referee”

        Also, some players get to perform in private, authenticate their own records (that no one else has witness), and get to break records with inferior performance because they adjust for biases nobody can measure (but they can still know how much bias there was), and the bias was always against their performance.

        And if you dare to ask for the film of their record, or the details for the alleged biases, you are a d*n*r.

  4. Oil companies operate the ‘least said, soonest mended’ policy of reacting to this sort of accusation. It means that detractors get bold and expect to get away with saying anything they like. It’s back firing on oil companies because if you never defend yourself, others, like senators think it must be true. Oil execs might be confident that they can prove their innocence but a jury might find them guilty of just being evil oil companies and convict them of racketeering anyway.

    • Racketeering. Very funny. Oil companies don’t have to worry about a defense until it gets to court because there are exactly zero energy companies in the world with climate staffs, have produced zero climate research, and have produced zero climate research papers. Racketeering has to be based on actually doing something other than existing. Like the Israelis always said, “New lasts two weeks.” So really, why do anything? Let Whitehouse subpoena the Director of Climate Research at Exxon. Oh yeah, hah, right, there is no such person and no such staff. So then he is going to try to say, um, because Exxon had a person somewhere in marketing with an MBA who responded to public domain climate information, that such action is conspiracy. Well, you cannot have a conspiracy with only public domain information, because the public is free to reach their own conclusions from the data, and if they reach nothing meaningful, that is not the fault of Exxon.

      • Just because the plan by green senators is insane, doesn’t mean they won’t find a way to make it work. If it gets to court, you can’t rely on the jury or even the judge to make a sensible, logical decision, especially when it involves a big wealthy company.

      • Unfortunately, you are accepting the premise that it is possible to be charged with racketeering because you exercise your first amendment right to advocate anything you please. What should happen is that the prosecutors who have filed these cases should be brought up on charges of conspiring to deny people their constitutional rights.

    • It’s not just energy companies -most companies will do most anything to avoid bad publicity regardless of how fictious it may be. Companes are cowardly and, quite frankly, are not in the PR business. Which is why they should hire lawyers and experts to defend them and sue if possible. A lawsuit goes a long way in forcing these liars to not lie..

      • Most companies are in business to make money – period. You can’t always avoid bad PR. The next best thing is to limit its shelf life. If you don’t engage your detractors, it’s harder for them to keep the conversation going. Why do companies settle suits, even when they are clearly in the right? Because they want to avid the risk of going to trial where a jury verdict might go anywhere. Their failure here is not understanding this is part of a sustained campaign, not a random shot in the dark.

  5. “But now that the media knows the truth, the question is: what will they do the next time they’re pitched a story about “climate deniers”?”
    But the media are ‘truth deniers’. They regularly ignore facts that contradict their ‘narrative’. Any one of the reporters could’ve read the full report and easily spotted Influence Map’s deception, but did they? Of course not. Do any of them read the scientific papers supposedly predicting calamity or do they just rely on deceptive press releases but out by university public relations? It’s part laziness but also part being a team player for the Climate Jihad.

    • Part of the backfill to increasing irrelevance is to flip to Fasicst draconian and authoritarian initiatives to thrust up the public’s rear ends. We shall see if this, as the first Enviro movement to take this approach with no broad public support, survives. Generally, these produce equivalent backlashes.

    • Mumbles,
      Mostly laziness, but also many reporters are as scared as many scientists who know that if they publish the truth they will probably lose their jobs.
      What is needed is a news paper (or TV station) OWNER to be honest, to allow their staff to look at things properly and then publish or transmit what actually has been found rather than what they have been told by a press office.

      • Mr. Seadog,
        I don’t think anyone would be fired for writing a story that contests the accepted storyline on climate. But they fear something far worse than unemployment, the *disapproval* of their peers. They just couldn’t stomach being thought of as one of ‘those people’. Social pressure is far more important to these folks. The sheep that strays from the fold gets eaten. ;)

  6. They are reaching their peak. They are consuming each other now in the battle for funding that must be drying up. As in all plagues, it should collapse fairly quickly now. However, like all religions there will be believers to the end of our lives.
    Nothing disinfects these carpetbaggers better than airing their fake claims.

    • The reason why the IPCC was using Greens and students was that even then, some 10 years ago, their funding had dried up. The students were cheap or free and the Greens helped for free. The legal brawl over the former chair and his ouster may not be so much his actions as a way to shut IPCC down. He lost relevance, they pulled out the dirt on him, and threw him out. He got the hard boot up the ass. So the UN IPCC initiative has been spiraling to oblivion for some time. The $500 mil the U.S. gave the UN on climate was to singlehandedly keep it all alive, as I doubt anyone else was contributing a cent more. It was a bailout to prevent immediate collapse of climate initiatives.

    • All natural systems follow normal distribution curves. There is a start, build-up, acceleration, peak, stall, and accelerating decline. Also called students-T curve. Populations and behaviors withing populations all do this. To stop it, just before the peak, a new initiative has to be started. I once met in an interview with a manager who graphed his electronics sales, showing sales product life cycle this way and the overlaps he planned for products to keep sales stable and increasing. The Enviro movement failed to understand this basic principle, and somehow convinced themselves that interest would be infinite. That was their very serious error. Now for them, it is oblivion.

      • The Enviro movement failed to understand this basic principle

        I have to disagree. I believe the AGW movement began as the CFC movement was dying. I also think the CFC movement only succeeded to the extent it did because it allowed a few very large companies to replace R-12 systems with a new generation, boosting revenues.

        I’ve always thought the AGW movement was financially based in an attempt to sell nuclear energy, but I don’t think it’s worked. I do agree the AGW meme missed the rising shoulder on the acceptance curve and is rapidly falling apart, and also that they didn’t have another project in the wings, but I’m fairly certain they did understand the strategy at one time, back in the early 80’s. It’s not that they failed to understand, they failed to execute.

  7. The big media is largement irrelevant now. It is only kept on life support by laws or made-up laws (legislation made up by fiat by courts) like the protection of sources afforded to big media and not to independent journalists and bloggers, at least in the US and France.

    Also in France, only the accredit journalists (those authorized by the extreme left controlled Commission de la Carte d’Identité des Journalistes Professionnels) can publish images that violate human dignity (whatever that is). Extreme left nationalist (“extrême droite”, “extreme right”) politician Marine Le Pen is being investigated because she used her freedom of speech on Twitter by publishing ISIS images to explain to journalists the difference between Front National and ISIS, and she isn’t a journalist.

    In France freedom of speech is restricted to journalists. Few people know that – I didn’t until recently.

    It goes without saying that this is unconventional (violates the European convention) so is illegal in Europe. France is pretty much in violation of every Europe rule. Yet it’s Marine Le Pen who is labelled anti-Europe.

  8. It is absolutely critical and a part of Enviro plans, to promote bogeymen as promoting climate skepticism, as the alternative is that the broad public does not care, sees nothing important going on, and finds climate change to be irrelevant. You cannot get funding on irrelevant public issues. To do so is to have, say, a party of irrelevance, funding of irrelevance, and laws of irrelevance to the public. This means that the subject was a fad, interest has peaked, and the subject is going away. All natural populations experience these bell-shaped, normal distribution functions of behavior. The decline in interest and hence relevance is inevitable. The fight now is not over climate as nothing above instrument noise is occurring. The fight is to continue to have the discussion even exist, much less be debated. Maybe they will look back and wish they had engendered debate. The alternative to lack of debate is irrelevance.

  9. I love that vague term, “climate action” that the greenies use, a nice bit of propaganda.

  10. I think it’s good that the alarmists are attempting to use the law to make their religion the State religion as not businesses will see it for what it is; a threat.

    Too many businesses have allowed themselves to participate in this fraud in the name of diversity or ecology or whatever Kumbaya touchy feely label the HR people can cloak it in.

    If they now become legally threatened by it, not only will they withdraw their complicit support but they will have to act to defend themselves and demand discovery for the proof of the claims and we know that that can only shine light on the shady and shadowy claims and so called science the alarmists have used to perpetrate this crime against the poor.

  11. Let this be a lesson – you can never win by pandering to activists who have branded you an enemy.

  12. a review of the group’s calculations and methods suggests that much of what the group defines as climate-related advocacy actually encourages emissions reductions, or has nothing to do with climate change.

    And this should surprise us? An organization representing the CAGW “pure” fabricates evidence they have “enemies” and those enemies are of course businesses like Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobile?

    These folks have been in the business of fabricating evidence from inception. Exposing their lies has become a parlor room pastime. So far they’ve been able to tease the dog mercilessly and they haven’t been bitten, but there are legal limits to free speech and perhaps someone of interest will sue them for defamation. I know it’s not likely, but we can always hope.

  13. I watch (carefully) news programs (very different) in my country.
    Usually the declaration terrorists are next to the statements of green “eco-militants”.
    Why?
    Both are less logical, intentionally (or unintentionally) they lie, are aggressive and …
    … increase the “viewership” …

  14. “what will they do the next time they’re pitched a story about “climate deniers””

    Exactly the same as last time and all the times before. Reporting isn’t about fact anymore, it’s about creating a stoush and then reporting on the feelings of the participants.

  15. The purpose of green policies is to raise living costs and so harm, even kill the poor.
    This is because the very poor are weak (and often black) and so worthy of death according to Green / Malthusian ideology.

    These adverts trumpeted how Shell was helping the poor survive.
    Hence the adverts are obstructing the purpose of Green policies.

    What else can InfluenceMap mean?

  16. They are still using the “deniar” term? It’s time we label them “climate fascists”.

  17. Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming is science denial.

    Developing a comprehensive energy production portfolio is rational and smart.

  18. Well if promoting “renewables” incl solar is climate D-Nile, and we should use the RICO act against den!@rs, then does that mean we should use the RICO act on anyone promoting renewables incl solar?

  19. Hilarious. Not only do the Climate Liars have to grossly exaggerate the amount of “influence” coming from energy companies affecting “climate policy”, but they conveniently overlook the fact that spending on the Greenie Climate Industry side is something on the order of 100 to 1. And even still, they are losing!

  20. If you are an oil company and say anything, it is “manipulating the public discourse,” but if you are Greenpeace, you are just publicizing facts. Simple.
    Any attempt to say anything heretical is thus obviously “manipulation” or “denial” and must be stopped. I believe it has been hundreds of years since the church was this intolerant of heretics.

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