Anti-climate Voices within Corporate Australia Dominating Policy Debate

Anti-climate voices within corporate Australia dominating policy debate

Oil and gas giant remains member of American Petroleum Institute

Australia's pro-climate corporations are largely silent when it comes to lobbying in support of Paris-aligned policy leaving the void to be filled by the fossil fuel sector, new analysis by climate lobbying think tank InfluenceMap shows.

Despite many Australian companies pledging support for net zero by 2050, InfluenceMap's research shows these top-line statements are not translating into any significant effort to encourage the ambitious policy steps required to reach that goal.

The analysis is part of a new Australia-specific interactive platform that focuses on 50 of the most significant companies operating in the country and 20 key industry groups.

It allows users to compare the climate lobbying positions - and engagement intensity - of these companies and groups with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The platform shows there is a significant imbalance between the fossil fuel sector - which is highly engaged on climate policy - and pro-climate corporate voices which are relatively disengaged. This is in contrast to other parts of the world where pro-climate corporations are much more strategically engaged in climate policy.

It also tracks lobbying on key state and federal climate policies, and highlights links between companies and trade associations.

The research shows:

Australia's pro-climate corporations are largely silent when it comes to lobbying in support of Paris-aligned policy leaving the void to be filled by the fossil fuel sector, new analysis by climate lobbying think tank InfluenceMap shows.

Despite many Australian companies pledging support for net zero by 2050, InfluenceMap's research shows these top-line statements are not translating into any significant effort to encourage the ambitious policy steps required to reach that goal.

The analysis is part of a new Australia-specific interactive platform that focuses on 50 of the most significant companies operating in the country and 20 key industry groups.

It allows users to compare the climate lobbying positions - and engagement intensity - of these companies and groups with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The platform shows there is a significant imbalance between the fossil fuel sector - which is highly engaged on climate policy - and pro-climate corporate voices which are relatively disengaged. This is in contrast to other parts of the world where pro-climate corporations are much more strategically engaged in climate policy.

It also tracks lobbying on key state and federal climate policies, and highlights links between companies and trade associations.

The research shows:

• Many of the more positive climate lobbying positions come from Australia’s financial sector, including the National Australia Bank (B-), Westpac (C+), Macquarie Group (C), Suncorp(C), ANZ (C), and Commonwealth Bank (C). However, the intensity metric shows this sector’s climate policy engagement is negligible and significantly overshadowed by the anti-climate lobbying from the fossil fuel sector.

• The three companies with the worst climate policy engagement scores are all focused on coal: Sunset Power International (F), Peabody(F) and Whitehaven Coal (E-).

• The oil and gas sector, represented by Origin Energy (C-), Woodside (D-), and Santos (D-), are among some of the most active companies when it comes to Australia-specific climate policy. AGL Australia (C), which is involved in gas, coal, and renewables, is also considered to be strategically engaged.

• Other key players in Australia's mining sector include BHP (D), Rio Tinto (D-), and Fortescue Metals Group (D-). These scores are considered misaligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

• The 10 companies having the greatest indirect impact on climate policy through their industry associations are all fossil fuel companies, with the top five being BHP, Rio Tinto, Santos, Glencore and Yancoal. In all ten cases, the overall impact on climate policy is negative.

• Of the two main airlines, Qantas (D+) scores noticeably higher than Virgin Australia (E+), although both only register minimal engagement.

• Woolworths (C-) has a more positive climate lobbying score than Coles (D, although both have extremely low engagement intensity scores. Wesfarmers, which includes the Bunnings, K-mart, Target, and Officeworks businesses, scores a C-.

• Australia’s largest telcos – Telstra (C-) and parent company of Optus, Singtel (C+) both registered minimal policy engagement.

• InfluenceMap’s Australia policy tracker, which matches corporate engagement with specific state and federal policies, shows how the most frequent lobbying position is to oppose meaningful action. One notable exception was Zali Steggall’s Climate Change Bill (2020), which secured a significant amount of corporate support.

The 50 companies in this research were primarily selected by taking into account Australian emissions and revenue data. For the international companies included in this research (including Apple, Shell, BP, and others), their scores represent their global policy lobbying positions, including any engagement in Australia.

The data also shows even among the companies that have publicly endorsed net zero by 2050, 14 continue to push for a role for fossil fuels, including gas and/or coal. This is despite the IPCC and International Energy Agency (IEA) both warning of the need to phase out the use of all fossil fuels in order to reach net zero.

InfluenceMap Program Manager Faye Holder said: "The research shows there is a clear imbalance when it comes to climate policy lobbying in Australia.

"The strong lobbying activity of companies and industry groups opposed to Paris-aligned climate action is drowning out corporate voices who are pro climate but relatively disengaged.

"For example, the financial sector in Australia - which claims to support action on climate including net zero - registers relatively little policy engagement compared with the mining and energy sectors.

"Given the urgency of action needed to limit global warming to 1.5C, this research not only highlights the negative consequences of anti-climate voices but also focuses attention on the minimal engagement of those companies and industry groups which make pro-climate statements."

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For further information or to arrange interviews or demonstrations of the site, please contact:

Simon Cullen, Communications Manager, InfluenceMap (London)

Email: simon.cullen ( @ ) influencemap.org