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Shell’s Top Climate Advisor Says Company “Values” Relationship with Climate-Denying ALEC at COP20

David Hone, Shell’s top climate advisor told an audience at the COP20 climate negotiations underway in Lima, Peru today that the company enjoys its relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a contentious corporate ‘bill mill’ known for its climate change denial and aggressive efforts to counteract emissions reductions and regulations.

More than 90 companies have parted ways with ALEC since 2012, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, after ALEC’s contentious position on climate science drew the ire of shareholders, citizen groups and unions.

Perhaps most famously, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt accused ALEC of “literally lying” about climate science and publicly announced the company’s decision to forego renewing its ALEC membership. The decision prompted a ‘tech exodus’ from ALEC which saw companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo!, and AOL cut ties with the free market group.

Other notable companies that have left ALEC include Amazon, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, General Electric, General Motors, McDonalds, and Walmart among many others.

Even oil and gas companies like Alliant Energy, Occidental Petroleum and ConocoPhillips have severed ties (although ConocoPhillips returned this year as a director-level donor of the ALEC annual conference under the name of Phillips 66).

Speaking on the topic of carbon capture and storage, Hone was asked by Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy and chief scientist of the Union of Concerned Scientists, when Shell expected to part ways with ALEC.

Hone responded: “we remain a member of ALEC. We remain a member of many organizations that hold many different views on many different issues.”

“We clearly value what our relationship with ALEC offers. We can talk to state legislators, not necessarily about climate, but on a range of issues,” Hone said, adding that Shell enjoys the benefits of being a member of the lobby group even if they diverge on climate science.

Frumhoff said Hone’s answer points to a deep inconsistency with Shell’s position on climate: “Shell has really spoken out forcefully about the risks of climate change, the acceptance of findings of the IPCC, the need for emissions reductions. In some ways Shell is doing some good things on climate.”

On the other hand, Frumhoff continued, “they are a long-standing active funder and participant with the American Legislative Exchange Council which in the United States is a highly influential lobbying organization that is both outspoken on denying climate science and the serious risks as highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and outspoken in its efforts to create model legislation aimed at avoiding regulation of greenhouse gas emissions at a state level and also at a federal level in the U.S.,” he said.

ALEC has 2,000 legislative members and over 300 corporate members that may vote on ‘model’ bills and resolutions that are crafted to advance corporate interests.

ALEC has produced thousands of corporate-friendly bills that state legislators have advanced to argue for cheaper and easier access to tobacco, suppress tort legal action and increase private education profits — not to mention the extremely controversial Stand Your Ground gun laws and voter identification laws that have been compared to poll taxes — yet there is still very little transparency surrounding the bill writing and voting process.

Image Credit: David Hone via IPCC_CH on Twitter

Like a kid in a candy store
When those boxes of heavily redacted documents start to pile in, reporters at The Narwhal waste no time in looking for kernels of news that matter the most. Just ask our Prairies reporter Drew Anderson, who gleefully scanned through freedom of information files like a kid in a candy store, leading to pretty damning revelations in Alberta. Long story short: the government wasn’t being forthright when it claimed its pause on new renewable energy projects wasn’t political. Just like that, our small team was again leading the charge on a pretty big story

In an oil-rich province like Alberta, that kind of reporting is crucial. But look at our investigative work on TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink pipeline to the west, or our Greenbelt reporting out in Ontario. They all highlight one thing: those with power over our shared natural world don’t want you to know how — or why — they call the shots. And we try to disrupt that.

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Like a kid in a candy store
When those boxes of heavily redacted documents start to pile in, reporters at The Narwhal waste no time in looking for kernels of news that matter the most. Just ask our Prairies reporter Drew Anderson, who gleefully scanned through freedom of information files like a kid in a candy store, leading to pretty damning revelations in Alberta. Long story short: the government wasn’t being forthright when it claimed its pause on new renewable energy projects wasn’t political. Just like that, our small team was again leading the charge on a pretty big story

In an oil-rich province like Alberta, that kind of reporting is crucial. But look at our investigative work on TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink pipeline to the west, or our Greenbelt reporting out in Ontario. They all highlight one thing: those with power over our shared natural world don’t want you to know how — or why — they call the shots. And we try to disrupt that.

Our journalism is powered by people just like you. We never take corporate ad dollars, or put this public-interest information behind a paywall. Will you join the pod of Narwhals that make a difference by helping us uncover some of the most important stories of our time?

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