Climate Lobbying

Climate Lobbying

Every year, companies as varied as oil and gas to tech to banking spend hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying to block or delay federal and state regulations designed to avert the climate crisis. They do this through their direct lobbying and through support of and leadership in various trade associations and policy-focused nonprofits. Increasingly, companies also advocate against climate progress and policy through highly targeted and widespread social media persuasion.

Many publicly traded corporations are members of  trade groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, or the National Association of Manufacturers, or the Business Roundtable,  which all have a checkered past, and an inconsistent present record on climate change--continuing to fight progress on climate-related regulations and legislation. 

And although a number of corporations have left ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, in protest, some well-known companies are still members. ALEC crafts model legislation at the state level. On climate issues, ALEC-inspired legislation challenges legislation and regulations trying to shift the economy to clean and renewable sources of energy, prohibit corporate climate disclosures at the SEC, or stop financial institutions from decreasing their exposure to fossil fuel risks.

Too many trade associations taking anti-climate positions are working on behalf of a small subset of their members embedded in the fossil fuel economy, to the detriment of those whose operations and supply chains are threatened by the climate crisis. Because trade associations can’t be compelled to disclose either their membership or their sources of funding, they essentially provide an opaque shield for companies.

ICCR members argue that companies that lobby against climate policy are engaging in short-sighted behavior which heightens their risk of significant expense when governments “catch up”, coupled with the fact that they are exacerbating the climate crisis, increasing risk and the cost of addressing the problem by delaying government response. To stay below a 1.5O C temperature rise, we will need strong market signals to reduce emissions and incentivize a shift to a clean energy economy. Mixed or negative signals from trade groups, social media campaigns, and some companies ensure that climate policies are not cemented—further increasing investor, corporate and international systemic risk.

For companies boldly pursuing GHG reduction targets, effective climate policy helps ensure achievement of those company goals. Given the worsening climate crisis and associated risks, ICCR members are pushing companies to align their climate actions and policy advocacy with the objectives of the Paris climate Agreement.

Our Objective:  

Corporate Advocacy Supports Net-Zero by 2050. ICCR members have launched a multi-year campaign to engage companies on the alignment of their corporate climate lobbying, including through trade associations and other indirect means, with the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Learn more about Net-Zero here.

Featured Initiative:  Paris-Aligned Climate Lobbying

While ICCR members have long called for disclosures of corporate lobbying activities, their new initiative goes further by pressing corporations to proactively lobby in favor of policies protective of Earth’s climate. The campaign was launched in 2020 and initially focused on a group of 7 companies -- American International Group, CSX, Duke Energy, Entergy, FirstEnergy, Norfolk Southern and Sempra Energy.

2022 Broadens Investor Attention to Tech, Freight and Logistics, Ride-Sharing, Banks and Insurance, and Online Retail

For 2022 shareholder meetings, ICCR members have so far filed 14 resolutions on Paris-aligned lobbying, doubling the number of proposals from 2021 and expanding the engagement focus beyond railroads and utilities to include over 30 companies spanning finance and retail to communication services and freight providers. Several resolutions are still to be filed in the early half of the year, for fall shareholder meetings. And January 2022 has already witnessed one key withdrawal in the finance sector.

For more information, contact Tracey Rembert, program lead, at [email protected].

Featured Resource: 

ICCR’s report on “Leading Lobbying Practices to Drive 1.5°C Policy Action."

The Global Standard on Responsible Climate Lobbying