Jan 19, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Unpacking Big Oil's divergence from the industry's most powerful lobbying group

llustration og oil barrels over a crack

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Here's a big question now that Total is bailing on the American Petroleum Institute: Will any other big companies also leave?

Catch up fast: Total, the French multinational, said Friday that differences over climate policy prompted the decision to end its membership.

What we're watching: Other European-based majors that have generally been more active on climate than the U.S. sector. They haven't signaled plans to follow Total.

Where it stands: BP said it's continuing to monitor memberships in groups it views as only "partially aligned" on the topic — including API.

  • But it also said, "We remain committed to trying to influence those associations from within."
  • Shell's statement in response to Total's move notes: "API is moving closer to Shell’s own stated views. As a result, we feel it’s beneficial to remain a member so we can continue to advocate for change from within."

The intrigue: API's posture is evolving. The Washington Examiner last week noticed a subtle shift in the group's climate policy stance.

Why it matters: API is the industry's most powerful lobbying group Total's decision is a sign of tensions within the sector over climate. BP, Shell, Equinor and Total have previously left some other trade groups.

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