Watered Down Climate Policy Highlights Need for Consistency in Responsible Corporate EngagementWe Mean Business
A recent Policy Studies Institute report revealed that some trade associations are working to undermine effective climate policy, using an arsenal of tactics and a variety of arguments.
Companies use trade associations to lobby on climate policy. According to a CDP survey, 77% of Global 500 companies used trade associations to lobby on climate policy. That’s a huge percentage – and is even higher than the percentage of companies who said they directly lobbied on climate policy. Trade associations are clearly a key mechanism used by businesses to influence climate policy.
The need for consistency in climate action – word and deed – from the business community is critical to achieving a smart global agreement in Paris in December 2015.
Part of responsible engagement on climate policy means ensuring that representative trade associations reflect the same commitments as corporate members. This consistency is, in fact, one of the five core elements included in the UN Global Compact Guidelines for Responsible Engagement in Climate Policy. In practice, this takes attention and commitment. It means aligning words with actions, ambitions and influences, doing an internal review to ensure accountability in the company approach and communicating on progress.
According to the Policy Studies Institute, multinationals are running into this watered down policy struggle both in European Union membership and in association with the American Legislative Council (ALEC).
Among those publicly voicing concerns and ending relationships with such groups are Unilever and Google. Google chairman Eric Schmidt was recently quoted, in blunt terms, on the technology giant’s reason for disassociating with the ALEC: “We should not be aligned with such people. They are just literally lying.”
Today, the greatest business opportunities in clean technology are only made more necessary by the growing risks of climate change and threats to supply chains.
Those countries submitting climate action commitments on the Road to Paris and COP21 are clearly lighting the path for growing corporate participation. According to the UNFCC, and as of March 31, 2015, 33 parties had formally submitted their INDCs, including all the countries under the European Union, Mexico, Norway and Switzerland.
We Mean Business partner organizations are part of this groundswell, having signed on to consistency and responsibility in engagement on climate change.
For more on how companies are already achieving good internal rate of returns from their low carbon investments, download our Fall 2014 report, The Climate Has Changed.