UK supermajor BP has dropped out of three US-based organisations following an in-depth review examining the alignment of their climate-related policies.
BP, which has pledged to become a net zero emissions company by 2050 or sooner, said on Wednesday that it will leave the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and the Western Energy Alliance (WEA).
Chief executive Bernard Looney said the reason behind the move was to regain trust.
“'We don’t trust you' – since being appointed chief executive I have had tough conversations with both supporters and critics. This has been the hardest message to hear,” Looney said.
“From now on we will not be asking you to trust us. We will be showing that you can. And ultimately you will judge,” Looney said in a post on LinkedIn.
Over the past six months, the company conducted a review of how key trade associations’ climate-related activities and policy positions align with its positions.
BP focused on the activities of 30 groups — concentrated in North America, Europe and Australia — and assessed their current and recent policy positions, based on publicly available information.
As a result, they were determined to be aligned, partially aligned or unaligned with BP’s positions.
For the three organisations, BP found misalignments that could not be reconciled.
“Due to material differences regarding policy positions on carbon pricing BP will leave AFPM and WSPA. Due to material differences around the federal regulation of methane, as well as asset divestments in the states in which the organisation is active, it will not renew its membership with the WEA,” BP said.
BP has identified a further five organisations with which it is only partially aligned on climate, including the American Petroleum Institute (API), the Australian Institute of Petroleum (AIP) and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).
“API took significant steps in 2019 to revise its climate position. The new position and corresponding climate policy principles have shifted a great deal and the association is now more closely aligned,” BP said.
“Although we have some areas of difference in terms of climate policy, we have worked closely with API on these recent changes and we will continue to do so as its climate position progresses. We will continue to make the case for our views on methane and broader climate policy within and outside of API,” BP said.
On AIP, BP said that, while the association acknowledges climate science, it does not have a strong position on this topic nor does it acknowledge the role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, both of which make the AIP only partially aligned with BP's policies on climate.
The CAPP is on similar ground as the association has no strong position on the Paris Agreement, and has not publicly supported federal and provincial carbon pricing frameworks in Canada, BP said.
The London-based company also said it found potential misalignments with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the US Chamber of Commerce.
BP has communicated these differences to these associations, it said, adding that it has also informed the trade bodies its “clear expectations with regards to climate positions and transparency”.
“This is an ongoing process — BP will actively monitor its memberships, participation and alignment with trade associations to which it belongs and will provide periodic updates, internally to the board of directors and to stakeholders as appropriate,” the company said.
BP plans to undertake another review in around two years’ time.
Chief executive Bernard Looney said: “Trade associations have long demonstrated how we can make progress through collaboration, particularly in areas such as safety, standards and training.
"This approach should also be brought to bear on the defining challenge that faces us all — supporting the rapid transition to a low carbon future. By working together, we can achieve so much more.
“BP will pursue opportunities to work with organisations who share our ambitious and progressive approach to the energy transition. And when differences arise we will be transparent. But if our views cannot be reconciled, we will be prepared to part company.
“My hope is that in the coming years we can add climate to the long list of areas where, as an industry, we work together for a greater good,” Looney said.
Reacting to the move, Mel Evans, climate campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: "Judge a company by the company they keep. BP are sticking with the American Petroleum Institute, the lobby group who wrecked (former US president Barack) Obama's methane restrictions.
"When BP remains part of a group whose position they claim to oppose, it's easier to get clarity on what they really think by looking at where their money is going — more oil, more gas, more climate change.
"This report appears to be tokenistic, inadequate and hypocritical — like all of BP's climate plans that we've seen so far."
Last year, fellow supermajor Shell reviewed its membership of 19 industry associations in Australia, Europe and North America in line with its transparency goals around activities related to climate change, and in response to requests from institutional investors.
“We found that we were aligned with nine of the 19 industry associations; that there was some misalignment with nine; and that there was material misalignment with one industry association, AFPM,” Shell said.
As a result, Shell decided not to renew its membership of AFPM this year.
Shell’s key climate-related policy positions include supporting the goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change, calling for government-led carbon pricing mechanisms, as well as policy frameworks for low-carbon technologies and supporting the role of natural gas in the energy system.