Half of world’s blue chips ‘obstructing’ climate policies

Ground-breaking new research has revealed that 45% of the 100 world's largest industrial companies are thwarting climate change legislation, while 95% are current members of trade associations accused of the same obstructionist behaviour.

London-based non-profit organisation InfluenceMap teamed up with researchers from the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists to conduct thorough forensic analysis on the companies’ transparency over issues such as global treaties, carbon reductions, climate policy and relationships with business associations, before ranking each of them with a score.  

The research, which quantitatively ranks the corporations by region and sector as well as globally, concluded that corporate influence now extends much further than a PR-social media juggernaut by using trade associations and advocacy groups as influences to deter changes to climate policies.

Gretchen Goldman, lead analyst at the Union of concerned Scientists, said: “More and more, we’re seeing companies rely on their trade groups to do their dirty work of lobbying against comprehensive climate policies. Companies get the delay in policy they want, while preventing nations from acting to fight climate change. It is unacceptable that companies can obstruct climate action in this way without any accountability.”

Transparency issues

Out of the 100 companies measured, only Google, Cisco and Unilever managed a ‘B’ rating.

Phillips 66, Duke Energy, Reliance Industries and Koch Industries – all part of the energy sector and the US Chamber of Commerce – received F ratings.

InfluenceMap Ranking Tables

Unilever scored strongly for its media reports and social media use, and was commended for its 100% renewables pledge back in May.

Interestingly, rival FMCG firm Procter & Gamble received an E- grade in the report, largely due to its membership with BusinessEurope.

As edie has reported, Procter & Gamble hit its waste reduction target six years early in 2014 and has announced a host of other sustainable goals and achievements over the past 12 months. However, its involvement with lobby group BusinessEurope, recently exposed for its stance towards climate legislation, has seen the consumer brand’s score fall.

Procter & Gamble’s low grade highlights the lack of holistic company involvement in climate legislation. BMW and Phillips – which have ‘been involved in directly advocating against climate policy’ – ranked in the top 12 companies leading the way in climate change action in 2013, according to another report by CDP.

The InfluenceMap research found that a variety of companies that are issuing green initiatives aren’t actively supporting any climate policies set out by global governments. InfluenceMap suggests that this is down to a lack of transparency around relationships with trade associations such as the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, the American Petroleum Institute, and the National Association of Manufacturers – many of which are yet to be called out by its members for opposing climate legislation.

As reported by the Guardian the world’s biggest public relations company Edelman has decided it will no longer work with coal producers and climate change deniers. This includes ‘fake front‘ groups that are obstrcuting action on global warming. 

Warning scores

InfluenceMap hopes that its scoring system will be used as warning to those companies scoring badly, stating that their research could go as far as to affect funding.

Combined with Edelman’s new PR direction, companies could have little choice but to burn bridges with organisations that could effect funding.

InfluenceMap’s executive director Dylan Tanner said: “Mainstream fund managers are now attaching climate-lobbying criteria to their investment decisions, such as the $850bn Norwegian Government Pension Fund, which in April of this year announced new standards allowing it to exclude companies responsible for unacceptable levels of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Testimonials on InfluenceMap

The report comes not long after S&P announced that over $30bn green bonds could be handed out this year to help finance a growing number of environmental and sustainability projects around the world.

NOTE: edie contacted Procter & Gamble at the time of writing this article but have not received a reply.

Matt Mace

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