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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The new(ish) group Law Students for Climate Accountability just launched a pressure campaign against the heavyweight law firm Gibson Dunn over its work for oil industry clients.

Why it matters: It's just one of many examples of how climate activism has been tactically evolving in recent months and years. That includes taking aim at a wider suite of corporate targets, like PR agencies and big tech, and intensifying a years-long focus on the finance sector.

What we're watching: Here's more of what we've seen, though it's hardly an exhaustive list:

1. PR and ad agencies. The Clean Creatives campaign launched in late 2020 is trying to make it uncomfortable for public relations and advertising agencies to work with fossil clients. The NYT recently dug in.

2. Wall Street. Activists have created new coalitions, such as BlackRock's Big Problem, an umbrella group formed in 2018 that pushes the asset management giant to do more.

  • Environmental groups have recently been increasing pressure on private equity heavyweights like Apollo Global Management to decarbonize their portfolios.
  • To be sure, banking and finance sectors have for many years been targets of pressure to divest from fossil companies, curb lending and more. But the efforts are getting bigger and evolving.

3. Twitter combat. Climate essayist Mary Heglar has helped popularize pushing back against big oil companies' Twitter accounts, or "greentrolling."

4. Big Tech: Recent years have brought new and organized criticism of tech behemoths over business lines tailored to oil companies and emissions more broadly.

  • The group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, for instance, formed a couple years ago.

5. Racial justice. The disproportionate environmental burdens and risks that communities of color face has long been the focus of some groups.

  • But the links between climate and racial equity are now getting more focus, with the police killing of George Floyd underscoring their salience.

6. Social media practices. Environmentalists have been pressing Facebook and YouTube to stem the flow of climate misinformation.

7. The courts and agencies. A growing number of cities and states have been suing big oil companies to hold them liable for costs they incur from climate change, without success so far.

  • Environmentalists recently targeted Chevron's marketing with what they called a novel Federal Trade Commission complaint.

The other side: Big oil companies point to their increasing clean energy investments, while emphasizing that long-term demand for their core products will remain robust.

Big banks have also been touting their growing efforts around climate-friendly lending.

The bottom line: Gauging the impact of the activism is tricky at a time of growing attention to climate across the board.

  • But certainly some of targets of these campaigns been changing their actions — albeit often less than activists want.
  • Facebook is doing more to counter climate misinformation. BlackRock has stepped up its sustainability work. Banking giants like JPMorgan and Wells Fargo have been setting new climate finance targets and pledging not to back projects like coal mines and Arctic oil development.
  • On the government side, the Biden administration is responding to the pressure to achieve racial justice by trying to ensure that climate policies aid disadvantaged communities.
  • The White House's $2 trillion-plus infrastructure plan aims to have 40 percent of the benefits of climate and clean infrastructure investments flow to disadvantaged communities.

Go deeper

White House claims climate credibility before summit

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The White House is making the case that its climate moves to date create enough credibility to press other nations to bolster their commitments at an upcoming summit.

Where it stands: Congress has barely begun digesting President Biden's proposed $2.2 trillion infrastructure package that's stuffed with the biggest clean energy investments any president has put forward. But a top official hinted Tuesday that it would rely on all the climate policy moves it has set into motion when Biden convenes world leaders for a virtual White House climate summit on April 22-23.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Apr 7, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Report: Energy jobs pay far above the national average

Expand chart
Data: Energy Futures Initiative et al. report; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

New data shows both the promise and peril of the White House push to speed deployment of renewables while also accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels.

Driving the news: A report on energy industry wages across sectors shows that they're far above the national median and more likely to provide healthcare and retirement benefits than the national average.

Treasury details Biden's plan to raise $2 trillion through corporate tax hikes

Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Treasury Department released details on Wednesday of President Biden's plan to hike corporate taxes over the next 15 years to raise about $2 trillion for his sweeping jobs and infrastructure proposal.

Why it matters: The plan will likely serve as a roadmap as Democrats in Congress craft legislation to enact Biden's $1.9 trillion American Jobs Plan, which seeks to fulfill a range of campaign promises to fix the country’s crumbling infrastructure, slow the growing climate crisis and reduce economic inequality.