Europe’s biggest polluters – Shell, BP, TotalEnergies and ENI - are fighting to stop a law that would force them to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Our governments cannot allow them to succeed.

Wildfires, flooding and record heatwaves have left a trail of devastation in their wake across the world in 2023, as climate change worsens.

Big polluters like Shell, TotalEnergies and BP who have brought us to this point – and who are continuing to drive increases in emissions – are still allowed to police themselves.

But that could be about to change – unless the fossil fuel industry gets its way.

Governments from European Union Member States are locked in final negotiations with the European Parliament on a new law to get Europe’s biggest companies to clean up their acts on the environment and human rights.

The Parliament’s negotiating position on the law – known as the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive - includes a powerful set of tools that could force big companies to reduce their emissions in line with the Paris climate agreement.

Europe’s biggest fossil fuel companies - Shell, BP, ENI and TotalEnergies - are represented by lobby groups in Brussels which have been pushing EU decision-makers to cut climate plans from the law.

And with the eye-watering profits these companies make from fossil fuels, it’s no surprise that they are pushing back against a move to make them reduce their drilling.

The four are members of BusinessEurope, FuelsEurope and the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP), which have all publicly come out against including climate plans for companies in the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive.

All three lobby groups have secured numerous high-level meetings with key policymakers about the law over the last two years.

Shell’s lobbyists at BusinessEurope have met with senior figures in the European Commission six times about the law, according to the LobbyFacts database. [1]

Meetings with national governments aren’t publicly available, but it is highly unlikely that the fossil fuel industry’s lobbyists will not have been making the case to axe climate plans for polluters there as well.

Indeed, the common position agreed by national capitals last year makes no mention of climate plans for companies – in line with what big polluters like TotalEnergies have been lobbying for.

But hope is not lost. The European Parliament is going into the negotiations on the final text backing climate plans for big companies.

And if climate plans for big polluters becomes a reality, they won’t be forced to act alone. Instead, they would be part of a transformation of the wider economy away from fossil fuels, as the law would oblige the biggest companies in Europe across other sectors to curb their emissions too.

Our governments must not be allowed to let the likes of Shell and TotalEnergies win this fight. We need the European Union to take a golden opportunity to put an end to corporate greenwashing and force big companies to reduce their emissions once and for all.


[1] While BusinessEurope represents a huge swath of the European corporate sector, it enjoys a particularly close relationship with big polluters when it comes to climate policy. At COP26, one of Shell’s employees was officially registered with the BusinessEurope delegation, while a former chair of BusinessEurope’s Green Taxation Working group at the UN level also came from Shell.