Characteristics and Legitimation Strategies of Corporate Climate Change Communication by Members of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative

Published: 27 April 2023| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/82c243nz3g.1


This paper examines the characteristics and strategies of climate communication by oil and gas companies on their websites, annual reports and sustainability reports. Utilizing the conceptual framework developed to study corporate climate change communication by organizations in controversial industries, we examine presence and hierarchy of climate information, how such information is presented, whether it permits stakeholder dialogue, which themes; stakeholders and external criteria are mentioned, and the extent to which the companies utilize symbolic and substantive legitimation strategies. The study sample includes 10 companies comprising the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI). To perform the content analysis, climate-related sections were downloaded from the companies’ websites and their reports covering the year 2016, and then analysed using Atlas.ti software. The companies were found to unidirectionally disseminate climate information with no feedback mechanism offered. Moreover, they are engaged in both symbolic and substantive legitimation by means of conformity with mandatory and voluntary standards and initiatives; association with industry bodies, governments and international authoritative bodies; and reporting on emission reduction performance. Besides, they utilize symbolic legitimation to frame their business as energy consumers when highlighting climate change solutions such as energy efficiency, but as energy ‘responsible’ producers when highlighting their fulfilment of societal needs for economic prosperity.



Energy Business, Content Analysis, Internet-Based Communication, Climate Change, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting, Corporate Sustainability Reporting, Legitimacy Theory, Corporate Communication