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

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Carol Linnitt is a journalist, editor, illustrator and co-founder of The Narwhal. Carol has been reporting on energy and environmental…

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