Analyzing oil and gas firm responses to climate change using NLP
How often do oil and gas companies talk about climate change? How do shareholders exert pressure on these issues? This project analyzes the text from 1,656 earnings calls-- over 16,000,000 words in total-- to provide answers.
All available earnings calls for the 10 largest publicly traded oil and gas companies were concatenated into a dataframe. Speech was classified into three categories depending on whether the speaker was a shareholder, a firm representative speaking unprompted, or a firm representative answering a shareholder question. A list of climate-related keywords was then used to extract paragraphs discussing climate change. Finally, depending on the keyword(s) contained therein, the sentiment of the paragraph is classified to reflect whether the speaker appears to accept/reject climate science, environmental regulations, carbon capture and storage, etc.
The output is visualized below. Blue indicates unprompted firm speech, light blue indicates firm responses, and orange denotes shareholder questions. The search bar limits the view to paragraphs containing a certain word. The dropdown filters on the side indicate sentiment to the questions mentioned; for example, to compare relative rates of climate science denial among oil and gas majors, tick the "rejects climate science" box. The time filter allows one to compare how attitudes towards climate change have evolved over time. Finally, the grey tabs at the top toggle between raw word count and total percentages.
The overall picture is bleak. Take Exxon Mobil, for example:
Total word count of earnings calls: 1,922,756 (100%)
Word count of paragraphs containing climate-related keywords: 41,201 (2.14%)
Of those paragraphs, WC of those which were brought up unprompted by the firm: 24,984 (1.29%)
WC of those displaying at least a partial acceptance of climate science: 1,612 (0.08%)
WC of those paragraphs displaying an unambiguous acceptance of climate science: 0 (0%)
Some key takeaways:
Some key takeaways:
- Out of over 16 million words, the combined word count of paragraphs across all firms which displayed an unambiguous acceptance of climate science was less than 1,500.
- American firms tend reject climate science outright, while European firms combine equivocal support for climate science with an emphasis on carbon capture and storage; this is conveniently not mutually exclusive with increased production and exploration
- The amount of shareholder pressure varies considerably between firms.