Abstract

The primary focus of most academic climate policy studies has been the robustness of climate science and the development of international negotiations and institutions, in which states, and sometimes societies, have been pinpointed as the key players. Systematic comparative studies of multinational and even global non-governmental actors have been in short supply. This research lacuna is particularly glaring since the position of a major non-state actor—the oil industry—may be crucial to the viability of the climate regime. This analysis shows that there are striking differences in the ways European-based and US-based oil companies have responded to the climate issue—here represented by the Royal Dutch/Shell Group and Exxon Mobil—and that one major source of explanation for this difference is found in the national political contexts of the companies' home-base countries. The importance of political context implies that the conditions for changing oil companies' climate strategies are likely to be located in the political context rather than in the companies themselves.

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