Lobbying and Influence
We recognise that corporations are manifestly involved in the progress of policy and legislation formation affecting their business (in all areas, not only climate change) and most regard the need to do this as part of their operating model. Research has indicated that this influence likely extends beyond the activities normally associated with the word lobbying (e.g. donations to clearly motivated political actors) and includes the domination of the public discourse on climate change science and policy via their hugely powerful and funded messaging tools (e.g. advertising, PR, social media, access to influential meetings) as well as the use of influencers like trade associations and advocacy groups. Therefore a full understanding of corporate influence on the climate policy process involves an analysis of a variety of information, funding and people flows, as illustrated.
Our methodology attempts to analyze all of these methods for exerting corporate influence.
Corporate influence over the policy process
Corporate influence on Climate Change: the United States
The highly political nature of the history of climate change policy and legislation in the United States (US) has been well documented. Likewise, much research has been produced on the practice of corporate influence through lobbying, political donations and the capture of media. The issue continuously attracts controversy and public concern and has resulted in legislative action demanding greater disclosure as to who is funding who within the US political system. Leading US non-profit science advocacy organization Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) collaborated with InfluenceMap in devising our methodology, and the group has published extensively on corporate influence over climate policy. A Climate of Corporate Control (2012) provides a valid and concise account of corporate involvement in climate policy, including the use of trade associations and advocacy groups as extensions of corporate activity. We refer readers to this and other documents from this respected source with regards to US activity.
Corporate influence on Climate Change: the European Union
The European Commission (EC) is highly important in the formulation of regulation in all EU Member States, with a structured program on climate policy. Correspondingly, there is a well-established process (centred in Brussels and directed at the EC) for corporations to exert influence in the EU. At the heart of this are the leading EU trade associations and federations, representing the national trade associations and corporations in Member States. InfluenceMap's advisor Ben Fagan-Watson authored an informative report in March 2015 on a number of these trade associations and their involvement in the policy process. InfluenceMap has similarly focused on the activities of associations such as BusinessEurope, CEFIC, ACEA, ERT and Eurelectric, as well as some leading national federations such as MEDEF in France, CBI in the United Kingdom and BDI in Germany.
Corporate influence on climate change: Japan
Japan was an early leader on global climate change issues having hosted Kyoto 1997, and as the industrial world's most energy efficient nation, it anticipated a robust market globally for its energy efficient and clean energy systems. The lack of quick implementation of the Kyoto Treaty and more recently the shutdown of the nuclear plants post-Fukushima 2011 that took away 30% of electricity generation has made Japanese industrial planners wary of global warming commitments that may limit their access to fossil fuels. Japan's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) plan released in June 2015 is weak compared with US and EU submissions and given its historical stance on climate change measures.
Many academics have referred to the triangle of power in Japan that continues to shape its industrial and energy-related legislation - the politicians, the bureaucracy and the powerful industrial federations. In the absence of Western style NGOs or civil society operators like think-tanks, Japanese companies tend to defer far more to their trade bodies than their Western counterparts, effectively rendering individual corporate influencing largely irrelevant. Since 1997, climate change has remained the domain of the government ministries and the Japanese Federation of Industries (Keidanren), with the political parties paying little interest as long as energy security is achieved. This changed as a result of Fukushima 2011 and in the wake of the ensuring nuclear shutdown a section of Japanese industry (the power companies, power engineering sector, coal importers) are pressing for the a major role for clean coal in a low carbon future. This status of nuclear generation in Japan will dominate the corporate interest in climate change policy from the Japanese government in the near future.