To deliver on their climate ambition, companies must close the advocacy gapDominic Gogol, Deputy Policy Director, We Mean Business Coalition; Anne L. Kelly, Vice President - Government Relations, Ceres
In another critical year for international climate policy, Anne Kelly of Ceres and Dominic Gogol of We Mean Business Coalition call on companies to use our new responsible policy engagement framework in support of ambitious outcomes.
The enormous uptake of corporate climate action commitments is one of the great successes since the Paris Climate Agreement. The growth in companies setting targets through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has been incredible, passing 5,000 companies in early 2023. This corporate climate ambition must be accompanied by the other ‘4 A’s of Climate Leadership’, the framework for credible climate action developed by the We Mean Business Coalition: action, accountability and – of course – advocacy.
Because to deliver the change required this decade to keep the goals of the Paris Agreement within reach, we must harness the positive dynamic between public climate policy and corporate climate action.
Ultimately, corporations do not operate in isolation. They will not meet their climate targets without strong climate policy. Creating an environment conducive to investment in net zero solutions benefits business by creating faster returns on investment, rewarding those taking action and bringing up the floor in the market. As companies go faster, they spur on governments to set more ambitious policies. We call this the ‘ambition loop’, but it only works when companies advocate for better policy – and that means advocating responsibly.
All sectors are not equal in this responsibility. For example, oil and gas companies have a historic responsibility given the very significant emissions produced by their products and the evidence that, in some cases, companies have systematically lobbied to question climate science and delay policy. However, it isn’t just the highest emitting companies that are the problem.
Other companies are working to cut emissions but may be undermining their own efforts by not advocating for pro-climate policies, or standing by as their trade groups lobby against climate policies.
With limited time to keep the 1.5°C temperature target alive, companies in sectors from transport to power to industry that want to play a constructive part in the creation of the global net zero energy system need to leave the old playbooks behind and commit to engaging responsibly.
We release the Framework for Responsible Policy Engagement (RPE) in another important year in international climate policy. At COP28 in the UAE, the outcomes of the Global Stocktake will be announced, renewing calls for the raising of climate policy ambition and focus will turn to signalling the end of the fossil fuel era. Crucial domestic climate policy be delivered this year, in the U.S. with implementation of the historic Inflation Reduction Act; and the EU will develop its 2040 climate target. For all of these policy developments, we need to see corporate climate advocacy at the fore supporting ambitious climate policy outcomes.
The stakes are high and expectations of companies are rising. Those who derail climate policies can expect to be called out, but even staying quiet will no longer cut it. The corporate voice carries great weight. We call on every company to use theirs, wisely and loudly.
This blog was originally published as the foreword to Climate Ambition to Advocacy: A Framework for Responsible Policy Engagement (RPE). Access the Framework for Responsible Policy Engagement here.