Press release 24 April 2019, 7:10pm Sydney / 11:10am Oslo / 10:10am London
Equinor poised to pressure lobbyists undermining climate action
Norwegian oil giant Equinor has today committed to reviewing its relationship with trade associations that lobby against ambitious climate policy, including the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA). This commitment has been made as part of a joint statement with Climate Action 100 investors.
Relevantly, the statement reads (page 3, heading 5, emphasis added):
- Equinor promotes transparency and recognises the importance of ensuring that its membership in relevant trade associations does not undermine the company’s support for the goals of the Paris Agreement.
- Equinor commits to undertake a comprehensive review of its memberships in industry associations that hold an active position on climate and energy policy.
- Equinor will describe the outcome of the review, including seeking to disclose any material inconsistencies and potential actions taken in that regard, directly on equinor.com by the first quarter of 2020.
- Equinor will continue to track and provide information about its trade association activities on climate change-related topics, areas of material misalignment and the actions taken in that regard.
In conversations with Equinor and Climate Action 100 investors over recent months, the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), a not-for-profit activist shareholder organisation based in Sydney, raised concerns about the “unusually close relationship” between Equinor and APPEA.
Equinor have confirmed in correspondence with ACCR that APPEA will be included in the review. Journalists wishing to check this can do so with: Marc Jacouris, Investor Relations, +44 788 598 3904, email@example.com Bård Glad Pedersen, Media Relations, +47 918 01 791
Ms Brynn O’Brien, Executive Director of ACCR, said:
“Australia’s fossil fuels lobbyists have earned their reputation as some of the world’s worst climate policy saboteurs. Companies and investors globally are recognising that our national climate policy is broken, due in large part to relentless undermining by lobbyists.
“APPEA is one such group, which has continually obstructed the uptake of sensible policy to reduce emissions in Australia.
“It does not stand to reason that a company majority-owned by the Norwegian people, known for being strong advocates for climate action, would fork out shareholder funds to these climate villains.
“While we welcome Equinor’s decision to review their relationship with industry associations against climate objectives, the best way for Equinor to manage its risk of funding climate policy obstruction in Australia during this election cycle is to cut all ties with APPEA now.”
APPEA is the representative body of Australia’s oil and gas exploration and production industry. Of APPEA’s 53 full members, 17 are subsidiaries of listed foreign companies, including BP, Chevron, Equinor, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell.
APPEA operates as a lobby group for its members. It promotes the unconstrained expansion of the Australian oil and gas industry, counter to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, through direct and indirect political lobbying, media engagement, social media campaigns, and advertising.
In 2014, APPEA was prominently involved in the dismantling of Australia's short-lived carbon price. In March, it spearheaded a campaign for a state environmental protection agency to withdraw guidelineswhich would require petroleum companies to offset emissions on new projects.
Equinor, which plans to begin searching for oil in the Great Australian Bight off the coast of Southern Australia, has engaged APPEA to undertake political lobbying in Australia on its behalf.
Given the Norwegian State’s 67% stake in Equinor, ACCR does not believe that the advocacy of Equinor, through APPEA, is in the long-term interests of Equinor shareholders.
The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) is a not-for-profit organisation which pursues and promotes improvements to the environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices of companies operating in Australia, using shareholder strategies and the tools of ‘responsible investment’.
ACCR undertakes monitoring of the activities of of fossil fuels lobby groups and engages with their corporate members. ACCR has previously engaged with mining giant BHP, for example, in relation to their membership for the World Coal Association (WCA) and the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA). This resulted in BHPexiting membership of the WCAand pushing for significantleadership and policy changes at the MCA.
For further comment, contact Brynn O’Brien, +61 423 951 316 or firstname.lastname@example.org (please note that Ms O’Brien is on Sydney time).