BP is backing advocacy groups calling for smart carbon pricing in US with cash it retained after cancelling its Possibilities Everywhere ad campaign earlier this year — a move designed to stop the supermajor from investing in corporate reputation advertising.

The advertising campaign, called Possibilities Everywhere, was the focus of a high-level complaint by environmental lawyers with non-profit legal group ClientEarth who alleged it was misleading, given the company’s continued focus on oil and gas.

BP initially rejected the claims, however, it later said it would be ceasing the campaign and not replace it, as part of its new net-zero carbon emissions ambitions.

Not all advertising to go

“When (chief executive) Bernard Looney announced our net zero ambition in February, one of the aims was to stop investing in corporate reputation advertising,” executive vice president communications & advocacy at BP, Geoff Morrell said in a LinkedIn post.

“And that’s what we did — immediately pulling down our Possibilities Everywhere ad campaign throughout the world.

“But Bernard didn’t say we would stop all advertising. In fact, to help the world reach net zero we said we would actively advocate for progressive climate policies, including through advertising,” Morrell added.

BP will now redirect “millions of dollars that had been spent on reputation advertising” to instead encourage policies that will help lower emissions.

“We’re actively advocating right now in regions and states across the US for smart carbon pricing,” Morrell said.

“Whether cap-and-invest or cap-and-trade, well-designed carbon pricing incentivises better, lower-carbon consumer choices and more investment in lower carbon energy.”


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Advocacy groups

The most public-facing advocacy BP has done so far have been in support of two regional plans — the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) .

The TCI is a regional collaboration seeking to improve transportation, develop a clean energy economy and reduce carbon emissions across 12 US East Coast states and the District of Columbia.

BP is actively supporting its adoption, which is designed to reduce it by 20% to 25% across the region, all while creating jobs, boosting the economy and modernising infrastructure, it said.

The RGGI is a cap-and-trade carbon pricing programme for the power sector. Over the last decade, participating states have seen a range of benefits while emissions and electricity costs have decreased, according to the Center for Climate & Energy Solutions.

BP publicly advocated for Virginia to join RGGI (the governor signed that bill into law in 2020), and it is now “actively encouraging Pennsylvania to benefit from the programme along with its neighbors in Connecticut, Delaware , Maine, Maryland , Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont”.

In addition to BP’s own direct and paid advocacy efforts, the company helped form the Coalition for a Better Business Environment, of which Shell is also a member.

“This coalition is also applying pressure in key states. And we’re going to keep pushing to expand the scope of these coalitions — to show lawmakers that well-designed climate policy has broad support across industries, academia, non-governmental organisations and more,” Morrell said.