Oil companies give billions to climate alarmists, but hardly a dime to climate realists
Climate alarmists often accuse skeptics, like myself and independent groups like the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Heartland Institute, of being in the pay of Big Oil. This is completely false – the Big Lie repeated so often that people eventually believe it. We do not receive even a dime from Big Oil. It’s part of the green fairy tale that skepticism exists only because the oil companies are funding it.
For the record, none of us skeptics – climate realists – doubt or deny climate change. We all recognize that Earth’s climate is in nearly constant turmoil and fluctuation, locally, regionally or globally.
What we question is assertions that emissions from fossil fuel use have somehow replaced the sun and other powerful natural forces that have driven beneficial, benign, harmful or even hugely destructive climate changes throughout Earth and human history:
Changes such as at least five glacial periods that buried much of North America, Europe and Asia under mile-high rivers of ice, warm periods in between that melted those massive glaciers, Roman and Medieval Warm Periods, a Little Ice Age, the century-long Anasazi and Mayan droughts, the Dust Bowl, and countless other major and minor climate and weather changes.
The standard refrain is that ExxonMobil gave a cumulative few million dollars to various skeptical groups prior to 2007. But that was many years ago. They got scared off by alarmist pressure groups and haven’t given climate realists a dime since then. In fact, the situation today is completely the opposite.
Big Oil companies now give at least a billion dollars a year to climate alarmists, projects and lobbying, to drive the Manmade Climate Chaos narrative. Why would they do that? Two reasons come to mind.
First, typical commercial reasons – what some would call corporate greed, or eliminating competition through the laws of the jungle. Feeding climate alarmism helps oil companies kill off “dirty” coal and position natural gas as being more “climate friendly.” After all, Big Oil is also Big Gas.
Second, public relations and “greenwashing” – portraying themselves as being more “green,” more socially and environmentally “responsible,” for supporting environmentalist groups and providing “clean” (or at least “less dirty”) alternatives to “climate destroying” coal.
The central vehicle for moving these green billions of dollars goes by a perfectly descriptive name: the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI). If the false accusers were correct, “oil and gas” would never be connected logically or ethically to “climate initiative.” But there it is, and it is very big. OGCI members include these well-known Big Oil names:
British Petroleum * Chevron * China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) *
Eni * Equinor * Exxon Mobil Corporation * Occidental Petroleum *
PEMEX (Petróleos Mexicanos) * PETROBRAS (Petroleo Brasileiro) * Repsol *
Royal Dutch Shell * Saudi Aramco * Total
Collectively, they claim to produce 30% of the world’s oil and gas. Their OGCI website also features a lineup of Big Oil corporate CEOs, just to show how seriously and responsibly “green” they are. Their latest annual report has a letter from the CEOs, including this little gem:
“As our ambition grows with the scale of the challenge, we look forward to working closely with policy-makers, regulators and all stakeholders to help develop the levers that can economically and sustainably accelerate the pace of the low carbon transition.”
You have to wonder whether their list of “stakeholders” includes families, companies and communities that understand how completely dependent they and all of modern industrialized society are on fossil fuels, especially oil and gas. Just read this list and watch the little embedded video.
More to the point, consider its origins. OGCI was launched in 2014, shortly after the infamous Chesapeake Energy scandal, when its CEO got caught giving the Sierra Club millions of dollars to support the environmentalist and Obama Administration war on coal. Ironically, even Club members opposed taking the money, since they consider all fossil fuels to be their enemy – and after it had bashed coal into submission, the Club took aim at natural gas, Chesapeake’s primary revenue source.
What seems to have happened is that the ever-wily Big Oil companies created their own “green” organization. With its billion bucks in annual funding, Big Oil is now one of the biggest financiers of Big Green, not counting Big Government funding sources.
The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is also actively engaged with Big Oil, through its EDF+Business arm. In particular, EDF has a huge methane reduction program – the Methane Challenge – which not surprisingly involves OGCI. The program features prominently in “Sustainability Reports” of several major oil companies. EDF is even building and launching its own satellite, cleverly called MethaneSAT.
EDF is clearly getting a lot of money for this. It claims it gets no money “directly” from the companies. Instead, the cash comes from unspecified “philanthropies.” Of course, where these philanthropies get their cash may be a different story; they could easily be laundering Big Oil money. It may be telling that OGCI does not issue a financial report – or provide any transparent online information about its financials.
Space News actually asked EDF about this funding – but got stonewalled. Here’s its report:
“However, EDF has provided few details about how much MethaneSAT will cost or how it will be funded. The project received last year a grant from a new initiative called The Audacious Project, although the size of the award was not disclosed. An EDF spokesman did not respond to an inquiry about the financial status of the project.”
Having EDF on its side is certainly a big plus for Big Oil. But talk about hypocrisy – for both of them.
In any case it is clear that Big Oil is spending at least a billion dollars on green stuff, which is a lot of green. (Cold cash, in the form of American greenbacks, is clearly the new Big Green.) There is no evidence that climate skeptics are getting any of this. But if some are getting any, it is trivial in comparison. Meanwhile OGCI and Big Green get billions, and EDF maybe many millions.
Another big irony is that the supposed alternative to abundant, reliable, affordable, civilization-enabling fossil fuels is supposedly “clean, green, renewable, sustainable, responsible” wind, solar and biofuel energy. (Hardcore environmentalists do not approve of nuclear or hydroelectric power, either.)
Those alleged “alternatives” require inconceivably vast amounts of land – not just for the wind turbines, solar panels, backup batteries and biofuel farms, but to mine and process the billions of tons of iron, copper, rare earth metals, lithium, cadmium, limestone and other materials needed to make the turbines, panels, batteries, transmission lines, tractors, trucks and other “sustainable” infrastructure.
All that mining, processing, manufacturing and transportation requires fossil fuels. And biofuels emit just as much (plant-fertilizing) carbon dioxide when they are burned as do coal, oil and natural gas.
Even more disturbing, many of those raw materials are produced with widespread slave and child labor, under health, safety and environmental rules and conditions that would make Upton Sinclair and other early Twentieth Century reformers think their oppressed workers were living in paradise.
When it comes to skepticism, the simple fact is that roughly half of Americans do not accept climate alarmism, right up to the President. Yet no one is paying for this widespread skepticism. As for Big Oil, it is pouring big bucks into Big Green and green climate initiatives. Conservative and climate realist groups have think tanks that do manage to find some funding, but it doesn’t come from Big Oil .
That Big Oil is responsible for skepticism is just another part of the alarmist fantasy world.
David Wojick is an independent analyst specializing in science, logic and human rights in public policy, and author of numerous articles on these topics.