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CEO DATELINE – Second oil company leaves AFPM over climate policy

Nov. 8, 2019
By Walt Williams

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The French oil and gas company Total S.A. will end its membership in American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers because of the association’s opposition to policies aimed at combating climate change, making it the second oil producer to do so in recent months.

In a recent report on its work on climate change, Total said it had reviewed its membership in 30 associations based on whether the trade groups were aligned with the company’s own positions in six criteria, such support for the Paris climate agreement and the development of carbon pricing.

Most associations were aligned, but three groups—the American Chemistry Council, the American Petroleum Institute and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers—were deemed only “partially aligned.” Still, Total decided to remain a member in each group “to advocate internally for changes in their positions, especially the API’s support for the rollback of U.S. regulations on methane emissions.”

Only AFPM was deemed “not aligned” because of the group’s stances on the Paris agreement and carbon pricing as well as its criticism of renewable energy development. “(W)e have opted not to renew our membership for 2020,” Total said. (AFPM maintains it has no stance on the Paris agreement.)

Total’s decision came roughly seven months after Royal Dutch Shell announced it was leaving AFPM because of the group’s opposition to many of the same climate policies. At the same time, Shell said it was retaining its membership in API and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, saying there was “some alignment” between its views on climate policy and the groups’ views.

Total is one of 72 “regular members” listed on AFPM’s website. The association represents 450 member companies, with most being either associate members or a smaller number of international manufacturing members.

The company's decision to leave AFPM comes as many large associations previously opposed to new regulations to curb climate change are adjusting their positions amid pressure from the business community to address the issue. In the most recent example, Axios reported Friday that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has quietly come out in favor of the Paris agreement this week after previously arguing the treaty would cost millions of U.S. jobs.