Research exposes top 35 firms lobbying against climate policy

Most of the globe's 50 most influential companies on climate change legislation are actively lobbying against ambitious decarbonisation policy, new research from a UK think tank has found.

Energy-intensive firms such as BASF and Dow Chemical are among 35 of the 250 largest private corporations opposed to climate policy, according to a report from InfluenceMap. Also indicted are car manufacturers Fiat Chrysler, Ford, BMW and Daimler, all found to have lobbied to delay or dilute CO2 emissions standards and procedures both in Europe and America.

The research examines a firm’s stance on climate policy, the level of its lobbying activity and overall economic clout. It claims that climate metrics ought to consider the influence of a corporation on climate-related public discourse. Only last month, oil major ExxonMobil was found to have misled the US public for decades on climate, a factor not currently not reflected in mainstream corporate metrics.

“Corporations can greatly influence what policies are adopted to address climate change,” Drexel University professor of sociology and environmental science Robert J. Brulle said. “Thus it is important to extend the analysis of corporate behaviour beyond its physical emissions.”

Corporate influencing

Multinationals Apple, Ikea and Unilever are among 15 of the top 50 influential firms reportedly pushing for an ambitious climate policy. Some of these firms, such as Coca-Cola and Unilever, have signed up to the RE100 initiative to source 100% renewable power, while others, including power sector companies SSE and EDF, are shifting their business models towards low-carbon electricity generation.

Encouragingly, the research shows that the group of pro-climate firms has grown considerably since the Paris Agreement and 2016 US election. InfluenceMap insists that this trend will likely continue as more companies seek to lobby governments to ease a cost-effective decarbonisation pathway.

“The data shows the climate policy agenda, in terms of corporate influencing, is being driven by a small number of massive global corporations,” Influence Map executive director Dylan Tanner said. “It also shows a group of powerful of companies in the tech, consumer goods and utilities sectors increasingly pushing for policy to implement the Paris Agreement.”

Climate champions

A host of major companies have sought to champion ambitious national-level climate policy in recent times. Apple, top of InfluenceMap’s list of firms actively supporting climate policy, has previously warned that any attempts to block a low-carbon transition in the US would prove ‘costly’ to both the global economy and human wellbeing.

Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk has hitherto accused politicians of bowing to the “unrelenting and enormous” lobbying power of the fossil fuel industry, warning that a global “revolt” may be needed to accelerate the transition to more sustainable energy and transport systems.

Meanwhile, Ikea’s chief sustainability officer Steve Howard last year claimed that the growing megatrends surrounding demographical evolution, decarbonisation and digitalisation will increase the need for the private sector to inform policymakers of the types of legislation that are needed to support low-carbon growth.

George Ogleby

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