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Spring Seminar Series - "How Structural Denial in the Oil and Gas Industry Hampers Climate Action: An Analysis of Corporate Earnings Calls, 2008-2019" -Professor Isak Ladegaard, University of Illinois

Event Type
Department of Sociology
wifi event
Apr 16, 2021   9:00 am  
Isak Ladegaard
Zoom Link
Originating Calendar
Department of Sociology

How do business analysts and corporate executives in America's oil and gas industry negotiate their professional goals and the destructive forces of climate change? That is, how do executives prepare for climate change, and how do investors and analysts hold them to account? To answer these questions, we combine data mining, computational text analysis, and qualitative coding of 778 earnings calls between investors, analysts, and executives in the period 2008-2019. We find that actors in the industry spend little time talking about climate change, and when they do, they invoke various forms of denial. People we call skeptics are largely silent on the topic of climate change, and attempt to end discussions of climate change as quickly as they start. Faux pragmatists rely on implicatory denial, downplaying the severity of the crisis and reframing climate change as an unavoidable, evolutionary phase that the field must go through. Enthusiasts take a rosy approach to climate change, interpreting it as an opportunity to maintain their dominant position in the industry. We argue that these various strategies serve to maintain the industry’s status quo.

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