Shell leaving conservative ALEC over climate change views

Royal Dutch Shell said it will leave the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, called ALEC, because of its “clearly inconsistent” stance on climate change.

Shell, which has become more vocal about calling climate change a threat along with some other energy giants like Total and BHP Billiton, followed the recent moves made by BP, ConocoPhillips and Occidental Petroleum in opting to leave ALEC, which is made up of conservative state legislators and numerous private sector interests.

“ALEC advocates for specific economic growth initiatives, but its stance on climate change is clearly inconsistent with our own,” Shell spokeswoman Kayla Macke said in an email response.  “We have long recognized both the importance of the climate challenge and the critical role energy has in determining quality of life for people across the world.

“As part of an ongoing review of memberships and affiliations, we will be letting our association with ALEC lapse when the current contracted term ends early next year,” the company added.

The Union of Concerned Scientists launched a campaign last year to urge Shell and other major companies to leave ALEC. Shell is the largest oil and gas company to do so to date. Others like Exxon Mobil and Chevron remain ALEC members.

At the same time, Shell has received recent criticism from environmentalists over its Arctic drilling plans.

ALEC representatives have been vocal in expressing skepticism toward climate change.

“Climate change activists have conflated our opposition to the government picking winners and losers as climate change denial, and in turn, have pressured companies to part ways with the largest and most effective group of free-market legislators in the United States,” ALEC spokeswoman Molly Fuhs said in a prepared statement.

She added that ALEC looks forward to Shell’s return in the future.

Angela Anderson, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ climate and energy program, said in a statement that ALEC is at odds with Shell’s acceptance of sound climate science.

“We’re happy that (Shell) responded to scientists and investors who have been urging Shell to sever its ties with ALEC,” Anderson stated. “It’s simply untenable for companies to ask policymakers to adopt a carbon price while supporting groups that fight climate and clean energy policies and spread misinformation about climate science.”

Shell has supported countries around the world adopting carbon price policies.

“If other fossil fuel companies want to be taken seriously when they say they support action on climate change, they should do the same,” Anderson added about companies leaving ALEC.