Corporate Carbon Policy Footprint - the 50 Most Influential
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New research from UK think tank InfluenceMap identifies the 50 companies most influential in shaping climate and energy policy around the world. Some of these (like ExxonMobil) are in opposition while others (like Apple and Unilever) are championing ambitious national-level policy to support their decarbonization plans. All, as major corporations, play a major role in policy-making globally both directly and through their trade associations, the research finds.
Estimating the impact a company has on climate change purely based on its greenhouse gas emissions may be incomplete, according to research. For some companies an equally, if not more, important impact could be their influencing of climate-related public discourse and policy from governments around the world. This may be the case for the politically powerful oil majors. For example, last month Harvard researchers found that ExxonMobil has misled the public over multiple decades on climate, a factor not currently reflected in mainstream financial climate metrics.
35 of these of the 50 most influential are actively lobbying against climate policy. They include companies in the fossil fuel value chain, heavy energy users, electric utilities with large amounts of coal generating capacity.
On the other side, 15 of the 50 most influential are pushing for an ambitious climate policy agenda, favouring renewable power and electric vehicles. They include signatories to the RE100 initiative committing to buying 100% renewable power and renewable energy generators.
InfluenceMap's research shows the group of active and pro-climate companies has expanded noticeably in the last two years since the Paris Accord and the 2016 US election. This trend will likely continue as more large corporations around the world make the case to governments for an ambitious and consistent climate-related policy pathway to help them meet their decarbonisation goals cost effectively.
Corporations can greatly influence what policies are adopted to address climate change. Thus it is important to extend the analysis of corporate behavior beyond its physical emissions. This accounting system clearly shows which corporations are assisting in a transition to a low carbon future, and those that are hindering this effort. Investors concerned about climate change need to take corporate policy actions into account in their investment decisions.
Lobbying should come under the same scrutiny as any other business activity. If companies are making a concerted effort to undermine climate policy, they may well be driving a systemic risk that will impact portfolios.
The data shows the climate policy agenda, in terms of corporate influencing, is being driven by a small number of massive global corporations. It also shows a group of powerful of companies in the tech, consumer goods and utilities sectors increasingly pushing for policy to implement the Paris Agreement.
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