By Kyla Mandel • Monday, July 24, 2017 – 09:36
There are nearly two dozen PR companies representing various fossil fuel and energy companies in Britain according to a new DeSmog UK analysis.
Examining the most recent PR and lobby registry files up to May 2017 shows the scale of the industry’s efforts to influence opinion and policy through the many companies hired to represent corporate interests to both the public and to government.
As DeSmog UK’s map of this network reveals, global public relations firm Hill + Knowlton Strategies is the largest fossil fuel representative, counting oil giants Shell, Total and Statoil as well as fracking companies Cuadrilla, Ineos and IGas among its clients.
Shale gas companies are also represented by an overwhelming number of different PR companies. For example, Cuadrilla, which is currently facing mounting protests for its plans to frack in Lancashire, had hired four different PR companies in the months leading up to May.
Centrica meanwhile, part owner of Cuadrilla, also had four different PR representatives. Two of these overlapped with Cuadrilla: Hill + Knowlton Strategies and Westbourne Communications.
You can explore the map put together by DeSmog UK below. It shows a variety of companies, from fracking giants to Northern Ireland oil and gas companies.
You can view this map on LittleSis here.
One noticeable absence from the list however is British oil major, BP. This doesn’t mean the company isn’t lobbying government or doesn’t have communication strategies. Instead, over the past few months it has met directly with government departments (something many companies, trade bodies and other organisations do frequently).
Some details about who has been meeting with government officials can be found via different departments’ transparency disclosures.
According to the most recent set published at the end of June, it shows PR company Weber Shandwick – which represents more than 70 clients from Northern Ireland oil and gas companies Tamboran Resources and Storm Energy to Mercedes Benz and Scottish Power Renewables – met with a Number 10 Special Advisor in March.
And in July, Hanover Communications – which represents more than 60 clients from Cuadrilla to Facebook – met with the Leader of the House of Commons, Rt Hon David Lidington.
However, what any of these meetings were specifically about or exactly who the companies were there to represent is not indicated.
Lobby transparency is extremely opaque in the UK. In order to determine which PR companies are representing corporations DeSmog UK analysed the information disclosed on three different websites.
This includes the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC) and the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA). Companies sign up to these associations voluntarily and every quarter a list of those clients represented by the different PR companies is released.