In the three years since most of the world's nations signed on to the Paris climate agreement, major oil and gas companies have poured more than $100 billion into their fossil-fuel infrastructure. That's more than 10 times the amount the same companies have spent on low-carbon investments, despite lip service toward that area, according to a new report.
InfluenceMap analyzed public disclosures of major oil and gas companies. The five biggest—ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP and Total—will collectively spend $115 billion on capital investments this year, according to the report. Just 3 percent of that spending will go to low-carbon investments, like hydrogen batteries or electric-car charging stations.
InfluenceMap contrasts this with the money the companies spent on "branding and lobbying" related to climate, which cost the oil and gas giants $1 billion since the end of 2015, per the report. That includes money spent directly as well as through trade groups that oppose carbon restrictions, including the American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers.
"The aim is to maintain public support on the issue while holding back binding policy," the report says. The spending shows "the increasing disconnect between the oil majors' efforts towards positive climate branding and their lobbying and actual business decisions," it reads.
BP last year put $13 million toward defeating a carbon pricing proposal in Washington State. Exxon stated it would support a carbon tax, provided that the tax wouldn't raise any government money and would offer immunity in climate-change lawsuits, of which there are many. At the same time, Exxon ran extensive social media ads promoting oil and gas development and opposing restrictions on fossil fuels.
That's significant because scientists have given the world a roughly 10-year window to rapidly move off fossil fuels if it is to avoid catastrophic levels of warming, according to the United Nations' climate change panel and the. Recognizing this, oil and gas companies have devoted more attention to low-carbon rhetoric, though InfluenceMap notes there's a lack of money backing the investment in alternatives.
The U.S. dramaticallylast year, becoming the world's top producer of oil for the first time in four decades. The extraction industry is projected to expand by more than 6 percent this year, analysts say.