BP pulls out of 3 trade groups over climate policies but sticks with the powerful API

BP PLC is cutting ties with three trade groups over climate policies, a move announced Wednesday that follows the company’s vow earlier this month to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The oil giant is pulling out of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, the Western Energy Alliance and the Western States Petroleum Association, the company said in a release.

BPBP, +0.77%  will remain in the more prominent fossil-fuel trade group, the American Petroleum Institute.

The company said that it was quitting WEA because it was “not aligned” with BP’s positions on reducing methane leaks. The oil giant said it was leaving the other groups because of differences over putting a price on carbon.

BP, as a former member of the WSPA, had spent about $13 million in 2018 to help defeat a carbon tax in Washington state.

BP rival ShellRDS.A, +0.76%RDS.B, +0.74% had already pulled out of the AFPM , saying it was at odds with the refining and petrochemical group on the Paris climate agreement aimed at lowering average temperatures, carbon pricing, fuel mandates and the reduction of methane emissions.

BP, as part of its previously announced carbon pledge, said it would install monitoring equipment at oilCL00, +0.00%  and gas processing plants by 2023 as it seeks to reduce the amount of methane leaks by 50%. The company said it will increase investment in non-oil and gas businesses. And it will stop “corporate reputation advertising’’ and shift that spending toward promoting carbon-reduction policies.

Its continued lobbying spending even as it made climate-change pledges had raised criticism from environmental and investor groups.

“If BP is to stand a chance of achieving our ambition, then we have to earn back people’s trust,” said CEO Bernard Looney with Wednesday’s announcement. “Our priority is to work to influence within trade associations, but we may publicly dissent or resign our membership if there is material misalignment on high-priority issues.”

In London trading, BP shares are down 9% in the year to date and have shed more than 19% over the past year. Oil prices are at their lowest in more than a year as fears about the spread of the COVID-19 virus outside of China continue to drive trade across financial markets.

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