Undermining the political power of the fossil fuel industry to make space for political change is one of the most important roles of the divestment movement.

Meaningful climate legislation presents an existential challenge to the current business model of the fossil fuel industry, and as such they spend millions every year lobbying politicians and blocking progress.


  • In 2012, the fossil fuel industry spent  $400m (£265m) on lobbying and political donations in the US alone
  • Companies like Shell have been caught trying to undermine renewables targets
  • Whatever they say publically, most companies are members of EU trade associations – BusinessEurope, CEFIC, FuelsEurope and OPG – that have lobbied against reforms to the Emissions Trading System and 2030 framework for climate and energy policies that would have encouraged the strong carbon price


  • Identical to the tobacco industry’s approach to undermining health warnings about smoking (in a now-infamous internal memo, tobacco company Brown and Williamson proclaimed, “Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public.”), the fossil fuel industry has been involved in efforts to discredit climate science. ExxonMobil alone spent $27.4 million on such work from 1998 to 2012.
  • Recent reports also show that ExxonMobil were aware of climate change as early as 1981 but continued to fund climate denial for 27 more years.
  • For more information on the work of fossil fuel companies in promoting climate change denial, see the Climate Deception Dossiers.


Revolving doors

  • Many who have lobbied against tougher legislation on fossil fuel companies move from private sector to government through the ‘revolving door’


Most worryingly, especially for those trying to engage with the industry to change, the fossil fuel industry shows no sign of changing its stripes:


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