How oil companies joined forces to spread doubt and denial

A girl in the Pacific Island of Tuvalu asks the world for a new place to live, as the sea-levels rise on her home.

Oil companies have a long history of uniting with other organisations to spread doubt about the seriousness of climate change and fuel climate science denial.

Shell and BP both sponsored the notorious Global Climate Coalition (GCC), a group created to lobby against the scientific consensus that humans burning fossil fuels was responsible for climate change, which operated throughout the ’90s with impacts that can still be felt today.

According to GCC’s mission statement:

‘Existing scientific evidence does not support actions aimed solely at reducing or stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions. GCC does support actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or to increase greenhouse gas sinks that are justified for other economic or environmental reasons.’



BP, Shell and Equinor are all current members of the American Petroleum Institute, one of the US’s most powerful industry lobby groups actively involved in opposing climate legislation. Evidence arose in 2016 that the API had been warned about the dangers of carbon dioxide emissions as far back as 1968, by a report from the Stanford Research Institute, and yet they continued to lobby to obstruct climate policy. They continue to have a hugely negative impact on US climate-related policy, particularly now Trump’s White House has granted their entire ‘wishlist’.

Shell and BP were also members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which has repeatedly misled state legislators by misrepresenting climate science. ALEC lobbies against climate and energy policies such as state renewable energy standards and provides ‘model bills’ to Members of Congress, which often find their way into law — many of which attack environmental regulations.

Shell and BP are reportedly both on the board of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), which ran a stealth campaign to block climate policies in California by backing a constellation of ‘astroturf’ (fake grassroots) groups with names such as the ‘California Drivers Alliance’ and ‘Californians Against Higher Taxes’.

The Union of Concerned Scientists recently put out a statement to ‘demand BP stop funding climate deception’ after it found the company had a ‘poor’ climate accountability score, largely due to its membership of such groups.

Big oil companies continue to use their financial clout to fund Members of Congress and Senators to vote in their favour. A 2017 investigation by Vice Motherboard found 53 out of 100 Senators and 232 out of 435 members of the House were climate change deniers.

All these companies spend a fortune lobbying Congress to secure favourable policies:

Shell has spent over $136 million since 1998 lobbying congress, BP has spent $120 million since 1998, and Statoil has spent $8 million since 2001, according to data from

BP’s Political Action Committee has also given $10,000 to James Inhofe, a US senator and former chairman of the senate committee on Environment and Public Works. Inhofe is Congress’s most prominent climate science denier.