The World’s Most Obstructive Companies on Climate Policy

November 04 2021

The World’s Most Obstructive Companies on Climate Policy

US oil & gas companies and trade associations dominate top spots

US-based oil and gas companies - along with their trade associations - top the 2021 list of the world’s most obstructive organizations when it comes to climate policy engagement.

The Climate Policy Footprint 2021 report offers an explanation for why regulators in some countries have struggled to build support for more ambitious climate policy in the lead-up to COP26. It also indicates why other countries - such as Australia - are increasingly viewed as a road block in global negotiations.

In putting together the report, InfluenceMap analyzed more than 50,000 of pieces of evidence covering hundreds of the world’s most significant companies and trade groups.

Each company’s score is based on an assessment of its climate policy advocacy (including the various trade groups it is a member of) and the intensity of this engagement. It is then adjusted to take into account the company’s economic and political clout.

The findings show:

US-based oil companies dominate the top spots - ExxonMobil (1st) and Chevron (2nd). Several others make the top 25 - ConocoPhillips (7th), Phillips 66 (12th), Valero Energy (13th) and Occidental Petroleum (22nd). The results reflect intense resistance by the sector to the Biden Administration’s efforts to transition the US economy away from fossil fuels.

Toyota (3rd) is highest-placed automaker, reflecting its opposition to phase-out dates for ICE/hybrid vehicles. Other automakers to make the list include BMW Motors (18th), Daimler (24th) and Hyundai (25th).

The results also suggest a shift in influence from coal in favor of gas, with a noticeable uptick in gas-related lobbying from the corporate sector. This includes companies actively lobbying in favor of gas in Europe, such as BP (9th), OMV (10th) and Gazprom (17th). It also includes fossil fuel-focused utilities such as Southern Company (4th), American Electric Power (11th) and Duke Energy (15th), as well as California-based electric and natural gas infrastructure group Sempra (5th).

The findings complement InfluenceMap’s 2021 ‘A-List’ report, which identified those companies and industry groups actively lobbying in support of Paris-aligned climate policy.

While these companies represent a growing hope that corporate leaders will rally behind policy makers to help deliver the Paris Agreement goals, it's clear that the world is not yet there according to the latest UNEP Emissions Gap report.

InfluenceMap Director Ed Collins said: "Given today is Energy Day at COP26, leaders are meant to be focusing on how to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels.

"But it's clear that the transition to a clean energy future is going to remain extremely challenging until countries take meaningful action to address the obstructive and anti-science lobbying of vested interests from fossil fuel value chain sectors.

"The corporate playbook for holding back climate policy has come a long way from science denialism but is every bit as damaging.

"What we are seeing is not limited to efforts to undermine regulations directly. It also involves prolific and highly sophisticated narrative capture techniques, leading governments down incredibly dangerous paths.

"The world is starting to wake up to the impact these companies are having through their policy influence.

"In many cases this policy influence massively overshadows the direct climate impacts of their operations and products."

The analysis also highlights the role of industry associations, which often take an even more negative approach on climate policy than many of their corporate members.

In a similar way to the corporate rankings, US-based industry associations dominate the list of the most obstructive organizations.

The findings show:

The top two spots represent the oil and gas sector in the US - the American Petroleum Institute (1st) and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (2nd). In total, 13 of the 25 groups that make the list directly represent the fossil energy sectors.

Several cross-sector industry associations make the top 10, including the US Chamber of Commerce (3rd), BusinessEurope (5th), the California Chamber of Commerce (8th), and the Federation of German Industries (9th). Beyond the top 10, the Japanese Business Federation ranked 17th, and the Federation of Korean Industries 22nd.

Two Australian industry groups made the list – the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (12th) and the Minerals Council of Australia (13th).

Commenting on the industry association findings, InfluenceMap Director Ed Collins said: "The analysis indicates why anti-climate lobbying from industry groups has been a serious problem for COP26, where – as UNEP research shows - countries have largely failed to come to the table with plans that are in line with keeping global warming to 1.5C.

"InfluenceMap’s research has captured the frenzied efforts by industry associations globally to block or weaken robust domestic policy and regulations in recent years.

"It’s likely that many of these groups are involved in the climate talks this week, as they have in previous years, seeking additional opportunities to influence the course of events.

"It’s high time the major corporations that financially support these groups - and benefit from their lobbying - are held to account."

Full report, graphics, and quotes at this landing page.

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Simon Cullen, Communications Manager, InfluenceMap (London)

simon.cullen ( @ )