Multinational corporations are not merely the problem in environmental concerns, but could also be part of the solution. The oil industry and climate change provide the clearest example of how the two are linked; what is less well known is how the industry is responding to these concerns. This book presents a detailed study of the climate strategies of ExxonMobil, Shell and Statoil. Using an analytical approach, the chapters explain variations at three decision-making levels: within the companies themselves, in the national home-bases of the companies and at an international level. The analysis generates policy-relevant knowledge about whether and how corporate resistance to a viable climate policy can be overcome. The analytical approach developed by this book is also applicable to other areas of environmental degradation where multinational corporations play a central role.
The climate strategies
of the oil industry
Oil companies want to sell as much oil and gas as possible at the
highest possible price. Still, a quick glance at the web pages of
Shell, ExxonMobil and Statoil (as well as other US and Europeanbased oil companies) reveals significant differences in their
perceptions of climate change. What are the strategies adopted by
ExxonMobil, the Shell Group and Statoil on the climate issue? Do
they merely use different rhetoric to please their clients,
consumers and employees, or is the
and corporate resistance overcome.
To address the research questions and move towards a better
understanding of factors explaining changes and differences in
corporate climate strategies, we have chosen to focus on three
major oil companies in this study: ExxonMobil, the Shell Group
and Statoil. Crudely put, these companies share the same core aim
of selling as much oil and gas as possible at the highest possible
price and the lowest possible cost within the same global market.
The business opportunities and challenges offered by regulatory
measures to curb GHG
The Domestic Politics model
Company-specific differences between ExxonMobil, Shell and
Statoil can shed light on differences in their climate strategies to
only a limited extent. Chapter 4 revealed that company-specific
features with implications for climate strategies are marked more
by similarities than differences. The CA model is also incapable of
explaining changes in corporate climate strategies.
We explore whether the national political contexts in which
the companies operate prove more capable of explaining
companies such as BP (British Petroleum) and
Shell support the Kyoto Protocol, have set ambitious goals to
reduce their own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and have
invested in renewable energy. At present, these companies
increasingly see themselves as energy companies rather than
merely oil companies. Conversely, a major US-based company
such as ExxonMobil – the biggest company in the world – has not
changed at all. ExxonMobil opposes the Kyoto Protocol, it has
not set any reduction targets for its own GHG emissions, and it
does not have any immediate plans to invest in
differences in in-house scientific and technological
expertise that may influence the perception of causes as well as
solutions to environmental problems characterised by scientific
Finally, an important organisational dimension with a potential
impact on environmental strategy choice is the ownership structure
of the corporation. First, there is a major distinction between state
and private ownership. Shell and ExxonMobil are private companies, while Statoil was, until recently, fully owned by the Norwegian
state. National oil companies may be less accountable
The Corporate Actor model
The previous chapter demonstrated the striking differences in the
climate strategies of ExxonMobil, the Shell Group and Statoil.
While ExxonMobil has adopted a reactive strategy, Shell has
chosen a proactive response, and Statoil has adopted a strategy
representing a hybrid between these two positions. In this chapter
we explore the explanatory power of the approach we have
labelled the Corporate Actor (CA) model.
To recapitulate our discussion from chapter 2, the CA model
of Shell’s turnabout from a reactive to a proactive company.
Additionally, it is difficult to understand on the basis of the CA
and DP models why ExxonMobil did not modify its reactive strategy in the four-year period from the US’s signing of the Kyoto
Protocol until Bush Jr was elected president.
In this chapter, we shift our focus from the domestic to the
international level. To what extent can the international climate
regime explain the strategies chosen by the oil industry? Climate
change is a global problem partly caused by global actors
tournament’s three official sponsors – IBM,
AT&T, and ExxonMobil – to cover those costs …
CBS doesn’t get to sell ad time on the open market”
(Boudway, 2013 ).
Nonetheless, from the 1960s onward, delivering
television audience attention to sponsors became part of the Masters
equation – and certainly became important to the televising
of golf in general. Golf was woven into the post-war
‘sports/media complex’. To be sure, the Masters
remains something of an outlier in terms of