Advocacy

Employees, customers, climate scientists, organizations, activists, and the media have attempted to address Elsevier's fossil fuel-expanding activities, business decisions that remove realistic pathways to net zero and just transition goals.

“Elsevier/RELX’s business activities are in direct conflict with the most conservative estimates of what it would take to avert the worst impacts of climate change.”
—Dr.Julien Emile-Geay (2022)

Advocacy

Elsevier employees and customers, climate scientists, scientist organizations, activists, and the media have attempted to address the company's fossil fuel-expanding activities that run counter to company statements and pledges—and a livable future.

Employees

As reported in The Guardian, "workers have spoken out internally and at company-wide town halls to urge Elsevier to reconsider its relationship with the fossil fuel industry." It's unknown how leadership is justifying support for the fossil fuel industry's exploration for more resources and projects around the world as being consistent with company human rights obligations or a just transition. With no room in the carbon budget for new projects, employee requests to understand which people have offered their prior informed consent for this activity, and why company messaging indicates the industry is credibly transitioning, have gone unanswered since 2021 at the latest.

“There is dishonesty about how these issues are being addressed by the company.”

Editor at Cell Press (2022)

“When I first started, I heard a lot about the company’s climate commitments. Eventually I just realized it was all marketing.”

—A former Elsevier journal editor (The Guardian, 2022)

“The company is in denial about the damaging practices...It's all so sinister...At senior levels there is no intent to address the problems.”

Editor at The Lancet (2022)

Complaint filed with the Massachusetts AG

The Massachusetts AG, which has sued ExxonMobil for deceptive statements and for misleading investors, received a formal complaint about such practices at Elsevier/RELX.

"[The AG] Office is an advocate and resource for...protecting the environment, workers, and civil rights."

Employee's public comment for the FTC's Green Guides

"No company should claim to be 'sustainable' while promoting a growth in fossil fuels or relying on offsets that mislead consumers about steps required to attain a livable future."

Submitted during a public comment period to the FTC, as it's updating its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims

Testimonial submitted
to the FTC

"RELX is misleading consumers with deceptive messaging and pledges while simultaneously facilitating oil and gas expansion which contradicts those statements."

The FTC uses information provided to spot trends, educate the public, provide data, and investigate bad business practices.

Submission: United Nations Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council

"The company continues today to generate content that provides the industry with the latest technological, procedural, and geographic information needed by the industry to move into new areas—activity that is a threat to humanity's survival...With the awareness that development of these resources carries with it substantial human rights harms, Elsevier’s Global Head of Sustainability has repeatedly defended this business activity to employees in the name of maintaining freedom and independence for company editors, some of whom are employees of fossil fuel companies using this information to aid their exploration efforts."

Scientists

Elsevier's customers have also spoken out directly to leadership, informing them that the continued facilitation of new fossil fuel projects is incompatible with any just transition and a safe future. Scientists have signed a petition, joined a boycott, submitted testimonials, visited RELX's 2023 AGM, and staged a protest at Elsevier's UK headquarters, reporting that they "could not get an official quote saying that Elsevier is not helping anymore with new exploration of oil and gas. So our concerns still stand."

"It’s greenwashing and I think would be pretty obvious to any intelligent reader. We were just hoping to raise awareness of the hypocrisy to Lancet’s readers—and it’s my sense that their response helped us to do that."

—Dr. Alex MacMillan, co-author of a 2022 Lancet commentary article demanding Elsevier end its support for fossil fuel industries

2023 RELX
AGM question

"The scientific community's advice is to stop new oil and gas exploration in order to keep the world in a safe place. So how can you justify this part of your business?"

WATCH

AGM answer,
parts 1 & 2

RELX leadership, in responding to a scientist-investor regarding her concerns about certain business decisions: "We may disagree because the world still needs fossil fuels."

WATCH

#StopElsevier
campaign

Scientist Rebellion initiated a campaign because "the world’s premier publisher of climate research and its parent company refuse to stop supporting fossil fuel expansion."

VISIT WEBSITE

Publications the company claims have been 'transitioned' still support new fossil fuel projects. As noted by UCS: "For its books, Elsevier’s ‘Energy with Purpose’ mission to support an energy transition by 'aligning with our journal colleagues' is insufficient given the company’s stance on the facilitation of new fossil fuels...Despite an IEA report calling for a halt to all new oil and gas fields as of 2021 that’s cited in the UN Race to Zero guidance, Elsevier continues to publish many books that can facilitate fossil fuel expansion."

Elsevier promotes its intent to become net zero by 2040, while still supporting new fossil fuel development, activity that removes realistic pathways to global net zero and Paris warming targets. While Geofacets was "sunsetted" after 2023, maps, graphs, figures, and XML text are now being provided on Amazon's AWS platform, which acts as the data repository and modeling environment—Elsevier still gets paid to provide the raw information. OSDU members include the world's largest oil and gas majors, companies whose business plans are antithetical to any credible net zero ambition.

Other human rights advocacy

Human rights advocates explain the complaint that resulted in the UN’s warnings to Saudi Aramco and businesses facilitating its fossil fuel expansion - and that "contributing to climate breakdown through fossil fuel expansionism could be a breach of international human rights law."

“Businesses, in order to meet their responsibility to respect human rights, have to do something called human rights due diligence…Where there has been impacts on peoples human rights...then they have to try and do something to remedy that problem."

"This human rights due diligence process is now becoming binding hard law in the EU under the corporate sustainability due diligence directive.” 

“Corporates ought to be identifying climate change as one of the things that they’re involved with.” OSDU Forum member Saudi Aramco’s business plans “will see it increasingly contribute to climate human rights harms.”

Complaint filed with the Massachusetts AG

The Massachusetts AG, which has sued ExxonMobil for deceptive statements and for misleading investors, received a formal complaint about such practices at Elsevier/RELX.

"[The AG] Office is an advocate and resource for...protecting the environment, workers, and civil rights."

Employee's public comment for the FTC's Green Guides

"No company should claim to be 'sustainable' while promoting a growth in fossil fuels or relying on offsets that mislead consumers about steps required to attain a livable future."

Submitted during a public comment period to the FTC, as it's updating its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims

Testimonial submitted
to the FTC

"RELX is misleading consumers with deceptive messaging and pledges while simultaneously facilitating oil and gas expansion which contradicts those statements."

The FTC uses information provided to spot trends, educate the public, provide data, and investigate bad business practices.

Submission: United Nations Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council

"The company continues today to generate content that provides the industry with the latest technological, procedural, and geographic information needed by the industry to move into new areas—activity that is a threat to humanity's survival...With the awareness that development of these resources carries with it substantial human rights harms, Elsevier’s Global Head of Sustainability has repeatedly defended this business activity to employees in the name of maintaining freedom and independence for company editors, some of whom are employees of fossil fuel companies using this information to aid their exploration efforts."