Under Lord Browne’s watch at BP the oil company rebranded itself as a green company, using the phrase ‘Beyond Petroleum’ to refer to its new-found principles.
‘Greenwash’ is a word used to describe a PR operation designed to whitewash out an organisation’s true activities by adding a green sheen to their name. It turns out that, despite the rebranding, BP’s chief business is still…extracting and selling oil. The BP greenwash has attracted attention from many people who noticed the hypocrisy of it. This is the most succinct summary we could find: BP: Beyond Petroleum or Beyond Preposterous?
BP’s re-branding as the “Beyond Petroleum” company is perhaps the ultimate co-optation of environmentalists’ language and message. Even apart from the twisting of language, BP’s suggestion that producing more natural gas is somehow akin to global leadership is preposterous. Make that Beyond Preposterous.
BP’s claim to be “the largest producer of solar energy in the world” is a little more serious. But being #1 for BP is so easy. It was achieved by spending $45 million to buy the Solarex solar energy corporation. That’s a tiny fraction of the $26.5 billion it spent to buy ARCO in order to increase BP’s production capacity for…oil. BP will spend $5 billion over five years for oil exploration in Alaska alone. And, according to one group of BP shareholders, BP spent more on their new eco-friendly logo last year than on renewable energy.
It hardly seems worth commenting further on the matter of an oil company branding itself as green, particularly a company that went on to cause the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The remaining question is, if BP’s achievements under Lord Browne are so highly questionable, what is it that politicians see in him? What, for instance, did Tony Blair see in him?