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Revealed: After Big Oil Pressure, EU Dropped Key Environmental Measures

'Arm-twisting tactics of Big Oil' exposed in letter sent from BP executive to EU energy commissioner

Thursday's revelations are just "another example of how BP has used power and influence to stop meaningful climate policy." (Photo: Brennan Cavanaugh/flickr/cc)

European Union officials "abandoned or weakened" new environmental protections after a top BP oil executive expressed concerns about their effect on the fossil fuels industry, the Guardian revealed on Wednesday.

According to a 10-page letter obtained by the Guardian, the unnamed executive warned that proposed pollution cuts and a push for clean technologies "has the potential to have a massively adverse economic impact on the costs and competitiveness of European refining and petrochemical industries, and trigger a further exodus outside the EU."

The Guardian reports:

The missive to the EU’s energy commissioner, Günther Oettinger, was dated 9 August 2013, partly hand-written, and signed by a senior BP representative whose name has been redacted.

Green MEP Molly Scott Cato said the document "reveals how the arm-twisting tactics of big oil seek to undermine the EU's progressive energy and climate policies. BP's covert lobbying, combined with threats of an exodus of the petrochemicals industry from the EU, are nothing short of blackmail."

"This document paints a disturbing picture of the degree to which global corporations subvert the democratic process, influence the commission and threaten the vital transition to a cleaner, greener Europe," she told the Guardian.

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According to InfluenceMap, which earlier this month released a report outlining how fossil fuel giants spend millions a year to defeat climate change legislation, "BP ultimately does not appear to be aligned with a transition to a low-carbon future and has stressed concerns 'including energy security, affordability and international competitiveness' against the case for ambitious [greenhouse gas] emission reductions."

The InfluenceMap analysis reads:

BP has communicated these concerns in consultation over the EU’s 2030 climate and energy policies in 2013, and in 2014 appears to have been involved in a legal challenge against the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to enforce GHG emission reductions in the US. In 2015, whilst BP CEO Bob Dudley publicly communicated support for policies such as a carbon tax and energy efficiency regulation, BP appears to have actively opposed these policies in direct consultation with EU policy makers.

Thursday's revelations are just "another example of how BP has used power and influence to stop meaningful climate policy," said senior analyst Brett Fleishman on Twitter. 

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