BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 23 September '15

Despite green credentials, BMW, BASF, Boeing are among companies countering policy progress

New research reveals that 45% of the 100 largest global industrial companies are obstructing climate change legislation, and that 95% of these companies are members of trade associations demonstrating the same obstructionist behaviour.

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No accountability

This is the key finding of London-based non-profit InfluenceMap, which used a unique research methodology developed with the Union of Concerned Scientists (Cambridge, USA).

The research also shows that corporate influence over climate extends to advertising, PR, social media and access to decision makers – all of which involve an intervention in the public discourse on climate change science and policy, and which are beyond the activities normally associated with lobbying.

‘More and more, we’re seeing companies rely on their trade groups to do their dirty work of lobbying against comprehensive climate policies.

‘Companies get the delay in policy they want, while preventing nations from acting to fight climate change. It is unacceptable that companies can obstruct climate action in this way without any accountability.’

Gretchen Goldman, lead analyst, Union of concerned Scientists

Unilever vs Procter & Gamble

Unilever, owner of brands including Dove, Knorr and Flora, is ranked as a leader in InfluenceMap’s scoring system, supporting multiple strands of climate policy globally.

In contrast – and despite its stated support for action on climate change – rival Procter & Gamble, owner of brands such as Gillette, Wella and Ariel, is a member of BusinessEurope and the secretive US industry group, NEDA/CAP.

Business Europe was recently under attack in the UK media for its obstructionist stance towards climate legislation, while NEDA/CAP has sued the US EPA to prevent the use of the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Opposing climate legislation

Other trade associations, including the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, the American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Manufacturers, US Chamber of Commerce, Business Council of Australia and the all-powerful Japan Business Federation, which counts almost every major Japanese firm as a member, have all strongly opposed most climate legislation for years.

InfluenceMap’s research found that despite their public communications, few corporations have actually supported the progressive climate policies being proposed by governments globally.

‘There is a lack of detailed analysis available in this area and sadly great companies sometimes do bad things by lobbying against government action to avoid dangerous climate change.’

Paul Dickinson, Executive Chairman of CDP

Lack of transparency

There also remains a lack of transparency around companies’ relationships with trade associations, with very few willing to publicly challenge them – despite clear misalignment between their climate positions and the actions of the associations.

That said, almost half of the world’s largest companies have also recently been involved in directly advocating against climate policy, including BMW, BASF and Boeing – all companies that highlight their own sustainability credentials.

Click here to read more about corporate influence from Influence Map.