‘Way behind the curve’: EU climate policy ‘obstructed’ by trade body BusinessEurope

Trade association BusinessEurope's "strong opposition" to more ambitious European Union (EU) climate legislation represents a "clear detachment" from the position of the European business community, according to a new report from UK research group InfluenceMap.

The analysis highlights that BusinessEurope’s engagement with climate issues shows a long history of opposition, in deep contrast with the calls for stronger EU climate policies from its 40 trade federation members including the CBI and 70 corporate partners such as Google, Microsoft and Procter & Gamble.

London-based InfluenceMap’s executive director Dylan Tanner told edie that the firm’s data shows that BusinessEurope “continues to be way behind the curve when it comes to the European climate policy agenda”.

“While it is normal for industry to push back on regulations and policy, most of European business and finance has clearly articulated the need for more ambitious climate policy from Brussels, not less. BusinessEurope ignores this trend at its peril,” Tanner said.

Policy obstruction

InfluenceMap’s study highlights a series of attempts from BusinessEurope to dilute EU climate policy – from strong opposition to the carbon tax in the 1990s up to present day efforts to water down the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The lobby group’s disruptive behaviour has remained largely unchanged since last year’s Paris Agreement deal, the research group contends.

A climate policy scorecard displays a general lack of BusinessEurope support in key areas such as renewable energy, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets and a strong UN climate treaty, a severe detachment from the positions of the business community that the group claims to represent.

In recent years, BusinessEurope partners such as Google, Microsoft and P&G have signed up to key climate initiatives such as the RE100 platform and science-based GHG targets, the success of which may be hampered by the trade associations EU policy obstruction, InfluenceMap suggests.

The paper suggests that BusinessEurope’s actions are more counterproductive to climate issues than the chemicals and oil & gas sectors, which scored far higher on critical issues such as GHG emissions targets and interventions in the EU’s renewable energy agenda.

Responding to the reports findings, a BusinessEurope spokesperson said:” We would like to underline that all BusinessEurope positions are based on an extensive and well balanced coordination process amongst our membership.”

“Our members are the leading business federations in 34 European countries and they represent a large variety of small, medium and large companies from all sectors.”

‘Less than progressive’

This is not the first time BusinessEurope has been criticised for its stance on environmental issues. BusinessEurope was recently exposed for its stance towards climate legislation, after arguing that EU climate targets undermine industrial competitiveness.

Last year it was revealed that BusinessEurope had written to the European Commission First Vice-President, asking for the original Circular Economy package to be killed off, before the decision to wield the axe was taken.

In 2014, the CBI said that BusinessEurope “took a significantly less progressive stance on climate change policies than the CBI”, and many companies were said to be vexed about BusinessEurope’s hostility to EU ETS reforms.

George Ogleby

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