Common problem, varying strategies

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.

2543Chap3 16/7/03 9:58 am Page 43 3 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

in Climate change and the oil industry
Open Access (free)

2543Chap1 16/7/03 9:56 am Page 1 1 Introduction In the prelude to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the oil industry was united in its opposition to binding climate targets. All major oil companies took the position that action on global warming could be damaging to their economic interests since the oil industry earns its livelihood from oil, gas and coal – the main sources of emissions of greenhouse gases. Ten years later, the positions of many oil companies have changed completely. Major European multinational oil

in Climate change and the oil industry

2543Chap6 16/7/03 9:59 am Page 158 6 The International Regime model In the preceding chapters, we have analysed the climate strategy choices of the oil industry as a function of company-specific factors (the CA model analysed in chapter 4) and of factors linked to the domestic political context in the home-base countries of the companies (the DP model analysed in chapter 5). These models have provided us with some answers as to why the climate strategies of the oil companies differ, but have left other questions unanswered. In particular, we do not have a

in Climate change and the oil industry
Open Access (free)

2543Chap2 16/7/03 9:57 am Page 12 2 Analytical framework This chapter outlines the analytical framework of our empirical analysis. Our point of departure is to identify the sources of corporate strategy choice: what factors determine the strategies chosen by the oil industry to meet climate-change challenges? We explore the impact of three main groups of factors, related to: (1) company-specific features; (2) the political context of corporate activity at the domestic level; (3) the international institutional context in which multinational companies

in Climate change and the oil industry

Netherlands, Norway and the 2543Chap5 16/7/03 9:58 am Page 105 The Domestic Politics model 105 US, which are the main home-base countries for Shell, Statoil and ExxonMobil, respectively. Although the oil industry is global and potentially affected by all countries in which it operates, multinational oil companies are closely tied to a specific home-base country. The significant differences observed in climate strategies between Shell, ExxonMobil and Statoil are thus possibly linked to political contexts in which these companies have their historical roots, have

in Climate change and the oil industry
Open Access (free)

2543Chap7 16/7/03 9:59 am Page 196 7 Concluding remarks How different are the climate strategies adopted by major oil companies? Why do they choose different strategies, and what triggers changes? In addressing these questions, we have made an effort to identify the key conditions determining the climate strategies of large oil companies. The oil industry makes a living from the main sources of GHG emissions and exercises significant political influence at both national and international levels. A natural strategy for oil companies has been to eschew

in Climate change and the oil industry

companies have their main activities in coal, oil and gas. The argument thus relates to differences in the relative importance of coal and oil versus natural gas in the companies’ portfolio of fossil-fuel activities: according to this logic, oil companies with relatively more emphasis on coal and oil are more likely to adopt a reactive climate strategy than are companies with a larger relative stress on natural gas. The environmental risk associated with the oil industry’s operations in relation to the climate problem is thus analysed in terms of each corporation’s main

in Climate change and the oil industry

industry had been one of the grievances cited to investigators into the causes of the 1937 riots. In the period after 1945 there were many episodes of strikes and riots amongst workers in the sugar and oil industry, and these signs of poor industrial relations caused great concern to colonial officials contemplating the potential for industrial development. In January 1947 a state of emergency was declared in the south of Trinidad after a strike shut down most of the oil fields. After oil wells were set alight in the Guapo district, the Governor

in Science at the end of empire
Open Access (free)

elsewhere when times were hard, either moving to another island, such as Trinidad, where a workforce was needed for the oil industry from the early twentieth century, or further afield to the USA and Central America to build the Panama Canal. Table 1 Principal exports of the British Caribbean colonies in 1947 ( British Dependencies in the Caribbean and North Atlantic, 1939–1952 , Cmd 8575). Exports Quantity Value (£000 sterling) Antigua Sugar 18,000 tons 419 Cotton 84,000 lbs 9

in Science at the end of empire