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Climate change and the oil industry

Climate change and the oil industry: Common problem, different strategies

Jon Birger Skjærseth
Tora Skodvin
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Climate change and the oil industry
    Book Description:

    This volume considers how multinational corporations can be part of the solution to environmental problems, focusing on the climate strategies of ExxonMobil, Shell, and Statoil as case studies. The analysis generates policy-relevant knowledge about whether and how corporate resistance to climate policy can be overcome. The analytical approach developed by the authors is also applicable to other areas of environmental degradation where multinational corporations play a central role. Invaluable to students, researchers and practitioners interested in national and international environmental politics, and business environmental management. An important and timely volume given the challenges facing environmentalists and policy-makers following the breakdown of the Kyoto protocol.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-082-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of tables and figures
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Jon Birger Skjærseth and Tora Skodvin
  5. Acronyms and abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-11)

    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 companies such as BP (British Petroleum) and Shell support the Kyoto Protocol, have set ambitious goals to reduce...

  7. 2 Analytical framework
    (pp. 12-42)

    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 operate. Each of these three clusters of factors forms a focus for one of the three ‘models’ that will be used to shape the analysis. As described in...

  8. 3 The climate strategies of the oil industry
    (pp. 43-73)

    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 observed difference of a deeper nature? And to what extent have their climate strategies undergone changes during the last decade?...

  9. 4 The Corporate Actor model
    (pp. 74-103)

    The previous chapter demonstrated the striking differences in the climate strategies of ExxonMobil, the Shell Group and Statoil. While ExxonMobil has adopted a reactive strategy, Shell has chosen a proactive response, and Statoil has adopted a strategy representing a hybrid between these two positions. In this chapter we explore the explanatory power of the approach we have labelled the Corporate Actor (CA) model.

    To recapitulate our discussion from chapter 2, the CA model suggests that differences in the companies’ climate strategy choice are explained by differences in the companies themselves. The business environmental management literature suggests a host of company-specific...

  10. 5 The Domestic Politics model
    (pp. 104-157)

    Company-specific differences between ExxonMobil, Shell and Statoil can shed light on differences in their climate strategies to only a limited extent. Chapter 4 revealed that company-specific features with implications for climate strategies are marked more by similarities than differences. The CA model is also incapable of explaining changes in corporate climate strategies.

    We explore whether the national political contexts in which the companies operate prove more capable of explaining corporate climate strategy. As shown in chapter 2, there is reason to believe that the relationship between the companies’ home-base countries and corporate strategies is important. This link will be analysed...

  11. 6 The International Regime model
    (pp. 158-195)

    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 good understanding of Shell’s turnabout from a reactive to a proactive company. Additionally, it is difficult to...

  12. 7 Concluding remarks
    (pp. 196-220)

    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 climatechange regulation. In the early 1990s, the oil industry was united in its opposition to binding climate targets. A precondition for a viable...

  13. Appendix: personal communication
    (pp. 221-222)
  14. References
    (pp. 223-236)
  15. Index
    (pp. 237-246)