| FNI NEWS
European Oil Companies: 'Climate Change is CSR Job No.
(18.01.2007) A recently published survey of oil companies
operating in Europe finds their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies
improving and relatively advanced, with climate change mitigation now being
seen by the companies as their foremost strategic issue.
is based on replies received from nine oil companies operating in Europe: BP,
Shell, Total, Repsol, Statoil, Hydro, Amerada Hess, Orlen and
"The most interesting finding is that the European oil
companies now clearly have come to view climate change mitigation as the most
important social and environmental issue confronting the industry," says Elin
Lerum Boasson, lead author of the survey and a Research Fellow with the
Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI).
The companies' replies also indicate
that countering bribery has a fairly high strategic importance, while issues
such as the promotion of gender equality and minimizing the risk of chemicals
seem to be of a comparatively lower importance.
The survey has been
carried out by FNI researchers in cooperation with the Stockholm Environmental
Institute and is part of the larger EU-financed research project
Realities: Analysing Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe (RARE).
In addition to the oil sector, the project has investigated CSR activities in
the banking and fish processing sectors, as well as in small and medium-sized
The survey reveals the oil companies' CSR policies to
be relatively advanced: On average, the companies adhere to as many as 17 CSR
instruments, with the Global Compact, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational
Enterprises, the Responsible Care Initiative, ISO 14001, and the Global
Reporting Initiative being most favoured. However, when asked which CSR
instruments are contributing most to their performance, the companies generally
view their 'company-specific' instruments to be more efficient than the more
While the European Commission's definition of CSR sees
it as efforts going beyond formal legal compliance, the oil sector (as well as
the other sectors surveyed) seems to reject this official definition, viewing
their voluntary activities on social and environmental issues above all as a
means to ensure compliance with mandatory legislation.
"The EU has urged
industry to take on ambitious measures voluntary through developing CSR
policies. The survey indicates that this strategy has failed," comments
The survey nevertheless concludes that the increasing
rhetorical attention to concepts such as CSR seems to have had at least
some effect on oil actual behaviour in the European oil sector at
least that is how the companies perceive it themselves.
|The Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI) is an
independent foundation engaged in research on international environmental,
energy, and resource management politics.
The Institute maintains a
multi-disciplinary approach, with main emphasis on political science,
economics, and international law.