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WASHINGTON, DC: A report by advocacy non-profit group Oil Change International (OCI) says Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, TotalEnergies, BP, Eni, Equinor, and ConocoPhillips have no plans to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

All but BP and Shell have explicit goals to increase oil and gas production and every company intends to rely on carbon capture and storage (CCS) and offsets to avoid ending the production of fossil fuels.

David Tong, report author and OCI campaign manager commented: “There is no evidence that big oil and gas companies are acting seriously to be part of the energy transition.”

Since the Paris Agreement, adopted by 196 countries in 2015 and entering into force the following year, the world’s 60 largest private banks have provided US$6.9 trillion to finance fossil fuel expansion.

The 15th annual Banking on Climate Chaos report reveals JPMorgan Chase, Mizuho, and Bank of America have been the worst funders of fossil fuel production since 2016 while the largest single funder of the sector’s expansion was Citibank with US$204 billion.

In 2023 the leading underwriters of tar sands extraction were CIBC, RBC, and Scotiabank with US$523 million each; Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group committed US$512 million to companies doing ultra deepwater offshore drilling; JPMorgan Chase financed fracking with US$6 billion; CITIC backed coal mining with US$7.6 billion; UniCredit committed US$265 million to companies involved in Arctic drilling and Bank of America financed oil and gas extraction in the Amazon biome with US$162 million.

The Banking on Climate Chaos report is authored by OCI, the Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development, Indigenous Environmental Network, Reclaim Finance, Sierra Club, and Urgewald. It has been endorsed by 589 organizations in 69 countries.

“I dream of a time when we don’t have to produce this report any more as we would finally be protecting the planet for the next generation,” said Diogo Silva, co-author and Banktrack campaigner. “But no: at the same time that fossil pollution is spreading death through record heat, months of rain pouring down in hours, and other once extreme weather events, fossil banks keep banking on climate chaos.”

Evidence of the fossil fuel industry’s decades-long effort to cover-up its accountability for climate change was published in April by Democratic staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Accountability and respective staff of the Senate Budget Committee.

For the first time documents show that fossil fuel companies have understood since at least the 1960s that burning fossil fuels causes climate change and have then worked for decades to undermine public understanding of this fact and to deny the underlying science.

During the intervening decades, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell USA, BP America, the American Petroleum Institute (AI), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce “evolved from explicit denial of the basic science underlying climate change to deception, disinformation, and doublespeak,” according to the Congressional report.

The six entities continued to obstruct and delay the Committees’ investigation by redacting or withholding over 4,000 documents while making “baseless legal arguments and flouting longstanding congressional practices and norms for investigations”.

Despite the lack of cooperation, the two committees conclude the oil and gas industry has sought to position natural gas as a green “bridge fuel” between coal and cleaner, renewable energy to ensure it fuels the U.S. economy in the long-term.

At the same time the sector has acknowledged internally there is significant scientific evidence that the lifecycle emissions from gas are as bad as coal and are incompatible with scientific emissions reduction targets.

While publicly supporting the Paris Agreement, fossil fuel companies have privately recognized their emission reduction goals won’t be achieved and have lobbied directly, or through their trade associations, against pro-climate legislation.

The group has also publicly celebrated carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to help reduce CO2 emissions while privately acknowledging that the technology is expensive and they can’t afford it; and publicly promoted algae-based biofuels as an innovative low-carbon technology while investing little in its R&D and then cancelling their programmes entirely.

Testifying before the U.S. Senate Budget Committee’s fossil fuel investigation Sharon Eubanks, former lead counsel for the United States in the federal government’s racketeering case against the tobacco industry, said the oil and gas sector has emulated its behaviour over a 50-year period.

Noting the similarities between the two industries, she declared both lied to the public and regulators about what they knew about the harm of their products, and when they knew it: “More than 1,800 lawsuits have been filed regarding climate liability worldwide. Many of these cases concern the misleading fake science that the industry purposely distributed to the public for decades,” she explained.

“Denying that its product was the leading cause of global climate change, Exxon in fact knew the reality of climate change in the late 1970s and then later invested substantially in telling the public that it was not happening; that climate change was not real.”

Citing a multiyear, multimillion-dollar scheme dubbed ‘Victory’ to create deception about well-established climate science, Eubanks claimed ExxonMobil has led its peers in copying the tobacco industry’s fraud playbook by funding climate change denial long after its own scientists knew and determined that climate change was real; launched a misinformation campaign together with other groups and organizations; and mislead investors and the public about the risk of climate change.

“This was all about the bottom line – money,” Eubanks concluded.

In a further example of corporate collusion for money, on May 09 Donald Trump hosted a dinner at his Mar-a-Lago, Florida club for 20 fossil fuel executives. During his speech he reportedly offered his audience freedom from federal government environmental regulations if they gave him US$1.0 billion to help him get re-elected U.S. president.

Later in the month, Trump attended a fundraiser in Houston, Texas hosted by three oil industry executives: Harold Hamm, the executive chairman and founder of Continental Resources; Vicki Hollub, chief executive of Occidental Petroleum; and Kelcy Warren, executive chairman of Energy Transfer Partners and a long-time supporter of Trump’s political ambitions.

According to Open Secrets, a non-profit that follows the money in U.S. politics, Trump has already received US$7.3 million in campaign contributions from the U.S. oil and gas industry for his re-election.

On May 22, House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. launched an investigation into the possible collusion by BP America, Shell USA, Chevron, Occidental Petroleum, Devon Energy, Hess, and ExxonMobil to artificially inflate gas prices.

The move follows an earlier announcement by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that Scott Sheffield, the former CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources Company - currently subject to a US$64.5 billion takeover by Exxon - allegedly attempted to coordinate crude oil production levels with OPEC and his competitors in order to drive up prices.

“I am concerned that Mr. Sheffield’s behaviour may represent common practices across the industry, as reporting and the FTC complaint have suggested,” said Pallone. “Simply put, I am worried that [his] actions, rather than being ‘entirely inconsistent with how we do business,’ as Exxon has claimed, are instead industry-standard practice — directly contradicting what the largest oil companies, including Pioneer and Exxon, testified to the Committee last Congress.”

In early May the FTC approved a consent order preventing Sheffield from gaining a seat on Exxon’s board of directors or serving in any advisory capacity at Exxon once it acquires Pioneer.

“Mr. Sheffield’s past conduct makes it crystal clear that he should be nowhere near Exxon’s boardroom. American consumers shouldn’t pay unfair prices at the pump simply to pad a corporate executive’s pocketbook,” commented Kyle Mach, deputy director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition.

In a sign that inflation, currently at 3.4 percent, is caused by corporations raising prices at the behest of shareholders, the FTC and 17 state attorneys general are suing Amazon in federal court for monopoly behaviour that has allowed it to stop rivals and sellers from lowering prices while overcharging sellers, stifling innovation and preventing competition.

“Our complaint lays out how Amazon has used a set of punitive and coercive tactics to unlawfully maintain its monopolies,” said FTC chair Lina Khan.

The FTC alleges the company is exploiting its monopoly power while raising prices and degrading service for millions of American consumers and hundreds of thousands of businesses that rely on Amazon to reach them.

“Seldom in the history of U.S. antitrust law has one case had the potential to do so much good for so many people,” commented John Newman, deputy director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition.
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