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BP cuts membership ties with three US industry lobby groups

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Via Financial Times

UK oil and gas major BP said it will no longer be a member of three US industry lobby groups after their climate policies do not align with the company’s own.

BP on Wednesday named the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and the Western Energy Alliance (WEA) as groups it will be leaving.

The move comes after BP carried out a review of its membership of 30 important trade associations around the world, assessing their lobbying activities and positions on climate policies against its own.

Big shareholders and environmental activists have criticised the energy majors for their membership of organisations that have lobbying positions that run counter to company promises to cut emissions.

BP said it had “material differences” with the AFPM and WSPA regarding policy positions on carbon pricing and with the WEA on the federal regulation of methane emissions. BP follows moves by Royal Dutch Shell and France’s Total which said last year they would quit the AFPM because of its stance on climate issues.

BP’s new chief executive Bernard Looney has pledged to align the company’s lobbying efforts with its intentions as it seeks to become a net zero emissions company by 2050.

“When differences arise we will be transparent. But if our views cannot be reconciled, we will be prepared to part company,” Mr Looney said on Wednesday.

He said he wants to counter the impression that the company would say one thing and do another after facing much criticism over its spending plans, lobbying practices and advertising campaigns.

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“Earning back people’s trust is essential if we stand a chance at fulfilling our purpose,” he said earlier this month.

The European oil majors are especially under pressure, versus their US counterparts, to take responsibility for their role in enabling global warming.

BP identified a further five organisations with which it is only partially aligned on climate policy, including the American Petroleum Institute, but which it will continue to remain a member of.

The API has come under fire for successfully lobbying the Trump administration to roll back Obama-era methane regulations and pushed to speed up the approval processes for oil and gas projects, without taking into account certain environmental criteria.

Even as the biggest energy majors have defended US federal oversight of methane emissions and have pledged to control greenhouse gases from their own operations, critics say supporting such groups means they are acting as enablers for other corporate polluters that are more lax.

API’s president Mike Sommers told the FT that despite differences he was “confident that we’re going to be able to continue to represent this industry, including Total, including BP, including Shell, including Equinor, for many, many years to come.”

Other groups it will continue to stay a member of include the Australian Institute of Petroleum and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, which BP acknowledged do not actively support the goals of the Paris climate agreement. It is only partially aligned with the National Association of Manufacturers on carbon pricing and not entirely in agreement with the US Chamber of Commerce on its position on climate science.

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