In the age of ESG – NGOs and big oil are the new unlikely bedfellows

It is safe to say that NGOs and multi-nationals have never seen eye to eye. When it comes to international oil companies, particularly those who operate in emerging markets, the relationship between the two can easily be described as acrimonious and often outright hostile. Read more: In the age of ESG – NGOs and big oil are the new unlikely bedfellows

In the age of ESG – NGOs and big oil are the new unlikely bedfellows

It is safe to say that NGOs and multi-nationals have never seen eye to eye. When it comes to international oil companies, particularly those who operate in emerging markets, the relationship between the two can easily be described as acrimonious and often outright hostile.

Campaigns are regularly framed as a David Vs. Goliath battle, often presenting the NGO as the underdog fighting for the just cause against the greedy corporations looking to cash-in.

Historically, this may well have been the case, however, both sides have come a long way since the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. The big multi-nationals, now find themselves under increased corporate scrutiny with a marked shift towards credible and impactful ESG and CSR policies. Sustainability has become a key influence in the employment sector alongside ethics, with the emphasis on employers to demonstrate their socio-economic credentials to attract the best talent entering the workforce.

In recent years, some NGOs have become increasingly politicised, and several prominent groups have found themselves at the centre of controversy when their campaigns and protests have gone too far to the point where their actions are not reflective of the good intentions at the heart of their cause.

From barricading oil refineries, to running highly-charged misinformation campaigns, environmental NGOs in particular, are often criticised as being too militant, reacting more for the sake of spectacle and failing to look at the bigger picture. Just last week, Greenpeace found themselves in the headlines for all the wrong reasons when several spectators were hospitalised after a protestor lost control of his parachute as he flew into the stadium ahead of the France-Germany match for the Euro 2020 tournament. The slogan atop the campaigner’s parachute? ‘Kick out Oil’.

However, there are NGO campaigns that are less about the spectacle and have much more far-reaching and serious financial and legal implications. A landmark ruling by a Dutch court in May 2021, ordered that Shell must cut its carbon emissions by 45% by 2030. The case, brought by Friends of the Earth’s Dutch Chapter, alongside Greenpeace and other groups, was the first of its kind in which a multi-national corporation has been held liable for its impact on the climate and opens the door to future lawsuits in several other jurisdictions, particularly in emerging markets where the involvement of oil companies has historically been much more contentious.

Another example where the actions of NGOs have caused significant long-term challenges to oil companies is Lundin Energy, who, alongside Petronas OMV and Sudapet, was named in a 2001 report by Christian Aid, accusing them of complicity in alleged war crimes in Southern Sudan during the late 90’s and early 2000’s, allegations all three companies have strongly refuted.

A full investigation by the EU at the time found no evidence of wrongdoing and determined that the allegations were found to be without merit. None of the three national authorities took further steps to investigate and the matter seemed to have settled. However, Human Rights Watch and the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan (ECOS) republished the allegations, which surprisingly prompted a new investigation into Lundin Energy by Swedish authorities that has played out for more than 10 years.

Yet, despite instances like those above, in recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of partnerships between ‘big oil’ and NGOs and other pressure groups, with some more surprising than others.

From partnerships like the WWF’s ‘Save the Polar Bear’ campaign with Coca-Cola to The Nature Conservatory’s collaborations with Boeing and Monsanto. As the business of NGOs has also become more corporatised, so too has their modus operandi, with some now even accepting corporate funding, such as The Nature Conservancy, who has accepted millions of dollars from BP and is currently working with the oil giant to “ensure their oil exploration efforts in the West are done sustainably.”

These partnerships reflect the significant change to the NGO business model, that no longer perceives these corporations as the enemy, but rather as allies who are best placed economically, politically, and socially, to pursue their objectives, particularly in complex jurisdictions where access to resources is not always straightforward or forthcoming. Such partnerships can help provide an NGO with direct access to government institutions and cut through bureaucratic red tape and the ability to get their messages to a much wider audience.

Today, we can clearly see the impact of climate change on the environment, and sustainability must now become a just as big a priority for oil companies as much as profit. Credible ESG policies are needed to secure the future of the planet’s resources and communities. Big oil companies have now woken-up to the reality that without natural resources, without the local communities, the well literally and figuratively runs dry. NGOs are increasingly aware of this and capitalising on the opportunity to join forces. Whether this is for genuine altruistic reasons, or because it fits in with more corporate objectives is open to interpretation, but for now, we are likely to see the two become increasingly familiar, albeit wary, bedfellows.

 

Read more:
In the age of ESG – NGOs and big oil are the new unlikely bedfellows

Source : Business Matters More   

What's Your Reaction?

like
0
dislike
0
love
0
funny
0
angry
0
sad
0
wow
0

Next Article

The BCC is calling on the government to help businesses rebuild

Originally written by Anna Jordan on Small Business Optimism has grown since lockdown restrictions have started to ease, but businesses are still worried about the months ahead. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has created a report outlining proposals to help businesses build back stronger. It focuses on five key areas: Manage the virus response in a way that helps businesses survive and The BCC is calling on the government to help businesses rebuild

The BCC is calling on the government to help businesses rebuild

Originally written by Anna Jordan on Small Business

Optimism has grown since lockdown restrictions have started to ease, but businesses are still worried about the months ahead.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has created a report outlining proposals to help businesses build back stronger.

It focuses on five key areas:

  • Manage the virus response in a way that helps businesses survive and thrive
  • Economic health and investment
  • Build an ambitious global trade strategy
  • Skills for the jobs of today and tomorrow
  • Invest in the places where we live, work, study and play

Let’s see what they had to say.

>See also: Sunak ignores small business pleas for more help to get through lockdown

Manage the virus response in a way that helps businesses survive and thrive

UK-wide co-ordination of virus management and recovery, ensuring consistency of approach across nations

Set out a long-term Coronavirus testing strategy so businesses can plan with confidence

Set out contingency plans for future virus response so businesses can invest in their future with confidence

Economic health and investment

Require lenders to accept requests from Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan customers for the term of their loans to be extended from six to up to ten years

Introduce a blended approach to businesses’ Coronavirus-related debt, including a student-loan style option, so firms only pay back debt accrued as a result of the pandemic when they have reached a threshold of profitability

Expand the super deduction as an investment incentive so more and different firms can take advantage of the scheme

Double the investment in start-up loans from £250m to £500m to meet anticipated demand from new business start-ups

Build on the progress to date and work with Accredited Chambers to deliver a Shared Prosperity Fund which has a clear purpose and role for business, takes account of in-depth local knowledge and which is designed and capitalised to deliver real-world improvements.

It is vital that the Community Renewal Funds are taken forward as quickly as possible. To deliver the maximum impact for regional prosperity, the government must work carefully with Accredited Chambers of Commerce and other business groups from those areas.

Finally, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund must be capitalised to match all the previous structural and investment funding, including ‘match’ funding by the UK government and Local Authorities.

Build an ambitious global trade strategy

Review new processes resulting from the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) and work with the EU to simplify/streamline, in order to reduce the burden of paperwork and prevent delays. Focus initially on areas where businesses have the greatest difficulty, such as VAT and Rules of Origin.

Enhance the SME Brexit Support Fund by increasing the maximum payment per company to significantly above the current threshold of £2,000 and extending the scheme to June 30 2022.

Build a coalition of support around a UK trade and investment strategy, bringing together the network of public and private sector organisations working in this space around a shared ambition and shared goals.

Skills for the jobs of today and tomorrow

Deliver on the recommendations of the Workplace Training and Development Commission, including:

  • Enabling SMEs to understand their own skills needs and identify and invest in the right training options for their teams
  • Rapid roll out of the Local Skills Improvement Plan process across England
  • Increased access to digital skills training and bespoke support for digitisation of processes and automation
  • Access to modular, ‘bite-size’ units of accredited learning to help adults gain new skills more quickly
  • Support for individuals to retrain for sustainable careers, including the provision of an all-age, high quality careers information, advice and guidance service

Ensure young people who have left school have access to training which enables them to catch up on lost learning, including essential maths, English and digital skills, as well as the softer employability skills such as communication, teamwork and resilience.

Expand funding for technical qualifications, including funding for the National Skills Fund to £6bn.

Reform the rules governing the right for foreign nationals to work in the UK by expanding the Shortage Occupation List (‘SOL’) for at least 12 months for sectors where we face immediate labour shortages, such as care workers, and by extending the Seasonal Workers Pilot.

Extend incentive payments to employers to encourage the take up of key programmes designed to give young people the skills and experience they will need.

Invest in the places where we live, work, study and play

Deliver an infrastructure revolution which creates jobs, opens up opportunities to access training and work, and increases greener transport – this should include completion in full of the HS2 ‘Y’ network

Go further than the outcome of the Williams-Shapps Plan and introduce truly flexible fares that work for passengers, whatever their travel needs

Support regional airport capacity by providing a 12-month Business Rates holiday while they get back on their feet, by reinstating the VAT Retail Export Scheme and by reducing the cost of testing for international travellers.

Simplify childcare funding by introducing a childcare budget for every family, giving them the freedom to choose the right model for their individual circumstances and the support needed for parents to work.

Read more

6 tips to help you maintain your online presence post-pandemic

The BCC is calling on the government to help businesses rebuild

Source : UK Small Businesses More   

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.