CEOs Challenge Industry Associations on Climate Policy

An InfluenceMap Briefing

May, 2021

How the Voice of Business is Fragmenting on Climate Policy in Europe, Japan and the US

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  • Amid the escalating climate emergency and resurgence of global political will to address it, a rift has emerged between groups representing the voice of business on climate policy in the EU, Japan and the US. CEO groups like the European Round Table for Industry (ERT), Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai), and Business Roundtable appear to have become increasingly supportive of climate policy, while the major cross-sector industry lobby groups in these regions continue to oppose robust action from governments. This is despite both types of groups representing similar corporate memberships.

  • The CEO groups’ shift to a more supportive stance appears to be broadly limited to light touch advocacy, such as top-line statements on climate ambition and some support for specific policies. In contrast, major cross-sector business federations like the European Business Confederation (BusinessEurope), Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) and the US Chamber of Commerce have made caveated top-line statements in support of climate action, but continue to conduct sophisticated and powerful opposition to specific policies and regulations.

  • Since the Paris Agreement in 2015, InfluenceMap has analyzed the climate policy engagement of powerful cross-sector industry associations. These associations claim to represent all sectors of the economy, a highly valuable perspective that enables unparalleled lobbying access to policy makers. Widely cited InfluenceMap analysis shows that BusinessEurope, Keidanren, and the US Chamber of Commerce have leveraged their influence to mount sustained and highly effective opposition to climate policy.

  • The divergent positions of CEO groups likely represent a shift in outlook from corporate leadership on climate policy that is not being reflected across companies’ influence value-chain, including the advocacy they outsource to industry associations. This places an onus on CEOs to address this misalignment within their companies with enhanced governance processes, including board-level responsibility for climate-related lobbying.

  • Such steps are now expected by the investment community, for example Blackrock recently updated its 2021 Stewardship Expectations to focus on “alignment between a company’s public statements on policy issues that are material to its strategy and its corporate political activities, including those of the industry associations where they are active members”. Lobbying alignment is also a key aspect of the Climate Action 100+ initiative, a coalition of 540 investors with over $52 trillion in assets collectively under management urging companies to take action on climate change.

  • InfluenceMap's well-recognized method for assessing corporate influence over policy relies on the scoring of numerous pieces of relevant, publicly available information (such as comments on pending government regulations). Full details of our methodology can be found here.

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