Op-Ed: Here’s how companies can strong-arm their suppliers into cutting carbon emissions
It’s been almost three months since news broke that a massive oil company was putting pressure on its major oil suppliers to take on more carbon-emitting projects. But now, the story is being re-told in the media, with media outlets doing their level best to highlight the companies that stood up to their opponents.
But in reality, this story is a lot more complicated. It involves far more than corporate giants like Exxon, who have been using this tactic for decades. It also involves large oil companies like Royal Dutch Shell, which is already investing aggressively in carbon-emitting infrastructure projects. And it involves a slew of smaller companies and a host of governments with a vested interest in pushing these companies to take on more climate-damaging projects.
What exactly are these companies doing differently? What is Shell doing to pressure its suppliers to get more in the way of carbon emissions? And how many of these companies are actually taking the lead, taking on more carbon and going further than their competitors? I’ve done my best to explain these questions and answers in a new op-ed in The Guardian.
The oil industry has long had a vested interest in using economic pressure and public pressure, but when did these companies start to look inward and start lobbying governments at the highest levels? What’s happened since the oil industry’s peak in 2005 and where’s the line between what is and is not economic pressure on governments?
We’ve had three months of discussion about how BP responded to government pressure before they were faced with a court case. Yet this debate has played out entirely in the media and, at first glance, it seems to be a relatively calm debate.
When it comes to pushing the oil industry, there are many companies that have taken the lead. They are pressuring governments to put pressure on government-funded projects, even if they’re not the most effective. And some of these companies have been in it for a while, as they have been building up a massive carbon-emission project portfolio.
The first to be affected by the oil industry’s internal carbon pressure was Shell, which is already investing aggressively in