Sep 26, 2019

BP CEO: Best to stay in trade groups for influence on climate policy

BP CEO Bob Dudley at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills in April. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

BP chief executive Bob Dudley has indicated that his company is likely to stay in industry trade groups despite differences in positions on climate policy.

What they’re saying: "BP believes that you can influence trade associations and other groups by being a part of them rather than outside of them," Dudley told Axios on the sidelines of a climate-change event in New York this week.

Driving the news: BP is conducting a review of its membership in trade groups and will report back to shareholders in 2020, BP Chairman Helge Lund said earlier this year. Dudley didn't comment on the ongoing review, but his remarks hint that the oil giant isn't likely to part company with the K Street establishment despite differences.

Where it stands: Facing public, investor and legal pressure, oil companies are increasingly backing action on the issue of climate change while still remaining members of trade associations whose positions don’t align with that shift.

  • Royal Dutch Shell, another major oil and gas producer based in Europe, left earlier this year the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, which represents oil and gas refining interests, due to differences over climate policy.
  • ExxonMobil is opting to stay in groups like AFPM to try to influence them on climate change, an official said this summer.
  • Virtually all oil companies have opted to stay in the American Petroleum Institute, the broadest oil trade group that also sets standards across the sector in addition to its lobbying activities.

One level deeper: Dudley, like the Exxon, said trade groups provide more than one purpose, so it’s beneficial to stay involved despite differences. "I respect Shell’s position," Dudley said about that company’s moves. "I think collaboration inside organizations is a better track. It doesn’t always work. We’ve left associations in the past."

  • A high-profile example is when BP left the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council in 2015. That group has lost several corporate members in recent years due to its position doubting established climate-change science.

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