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CEO DATELINE – BP cites climate change in exiting three oil industry groups

Feb. 26, 2020
By Walt Williams

British oil giant BP will end its membership with American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and two other oil industry associations after determining the groups’ positions on climate change were not aligned with its own.

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BP laid out the reasons for its decision in a 10-page report released Wednesday in which the company evaluated its memberships in 30 associations based on their positions on climate change. The company will also end its memberships with Western Energy Alliance and the Western States Petroleum Association.

BP is now the third oil company to pull out of AFPM over differences in climate policy, following the exit of Shell Oil and Total S.A. last year. However, it will remain a member of the American Petroleum Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—all of which have aggressively fought regulations seeking to curb climate change and at times questioned the science behind it.

BP said that while the three groups were only “partially aligned” with its own positions on climate change, it will work within each to bring them into closer alignment.

“We will make the case for our views on climate change within the associations of which we are members to encourage alignment and will be more transparent about differences where they arise. And if our views cannot be reconciled, we will be prepared to share our views publicly or part company where progress is best served by doing so,” BP said in the report.

Climate change has long been a major policy issue, but over the past year many associations have either reevaluated their own positions on the topic or adopted new stances amid pressure from business members. The Chamber, for example, last year launched a “climate action” task force and revised its official position to no longer question climate change science.

So far AFPM has borne the brunt of defections over the issue. In a statement, association CEO Chet Thompson said his group believes BP’s report doesn’t accurately reflect its positions on climate change.

“As an active member of our executive committee, BP knows full well that AFPM recognizes that climate change is real and that we are committed to engaging on and developing policies that enable our members to provide the fuels and petrochemicals that humanity needs to thrive in a sustainable way,” he said. “They also know that AFPM has been actively promoting fuel policies designed specifically to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation fleet.

“For these reasons, we are left to assume that their decision to exit the organization was based on factors other than our actual positions on the issues,” he added.