Climate Lobbying

Climate Lobbying

Each year, oil and gas companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying to block or delay federal and state regulation designed to avert the climate crisis. They do this through their direct lobbying and through that of their trade associations. Many publicly traded corporations are members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which despite a recent statement acknowledging the reality of anthropogenic climate change, continues to fight progress on climate-related regulation and legislation. 

And although a number of corporations have left ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, in protest, many companies are still members. ALEC crafts model legislation at the state level like the Stand Your Ground bill that enabled the murder of Trayvon Williams in Florida. On climate issues, ALEC-inspired legislation challenges legislation and regulations trying to shift the economy to clean and renewable sources of energy.

Too many trade associations taking anti-climate positions are working on behalf of a 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 a cloak of invisibility 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.

For companies pursuing challenging GHG reduction targets, effective climate policy would serve as wind in their sails. Given the worsening climate crisis and associated risks, our members are pushing companies to align their climate actions and policies with objectives of the Paris Accord.

Our Objective:  

Net-Zero by 2050. ICCR has launched a focused campaign to assist investors in engaging companies on the alignment of their corporate climate lobbying, including through trade associations, with a goal of net zero 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 that goes much further by pressing corporations to proactively lobby in favor of policies protective of Earth’s climate

As part of this campaign, ICCR members filed 7 resolutions for the 2021 proxy season —with American International Group, CSX,  Duke Energy, Entergy, FirstEnergy, Norfolk Southern and Sempra Energy—asking each company to evaluate if, and how, its lobbying activities (direct and indirect through trade and other  associations) align with the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees  Celsius, and how they plan to mitigate risks presented by any misalignment.  

Of the initial 7 companies, our members have reached agreements with 5:

AIG ($AIG)
CSX ($CSX) 
Duke Energy ($DUK)
Entergy ($ETR)
FirstEnergy ($FE)

We commend CSX’s commitment to issue a report studying their lobbying on climate policy. Importantly, it will examine the policy positions of each of their trade associations and assess how well they align with the goals of the Paris Agreement. CSX has already committed to science-based targets that are consistent with Paris. Now we will be able to see if their policy advocacy points in the same direction.

Two of the campaign’s resolutions went to a vote in mid-May. The vote at Norfolk Southern, in particular, was indicative of the concern among investors, large and small, about the need for Paris-aligned climate lobbying by companies. 

Norfolk Southern ($NSC)  Vote at AGM: 76.4% (Proxy Memo here
Sempra Energy ($SRE) – Vote: 37% (Proxy Memo here)