Sappi Ltd

InfluenceMap Score
Performance Band
Organisation Score
Relationship Score
Paper & Forest Products
Johannesburg, South Africa
Official Web Site:

Climate Lobbying Overview: Sappi appears to have mixed engagement on climate policy. Despite having broadly positive top-line communications on climate policy and the energy transition, Sappi has actively lobbied to weaken the South African Carbon Tax.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: Sappi has communicated broadly positive top-line positions on climate policy. In its 2021 Sustainability Report, Sappi appeared to support the European Green Deal, and the Fit for 55 package, two important EU climate policies. In the same report, Sappi Group Chairman, Valli Moosa, supported achieving global net-zero emissions by 2050. Sappi also supported the goal of limiting global temperature increases by 1.5°C on its corporate website, accessed in March 2022, and also appeared to support the goals of the Paris Agreement in its Sustainability FAQs, accessed in March 2022.

Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: Sappi has engaged negatively with carbon tax legislation, and has shown little transparent engagement with other climate-related regulations. In its 2020 Sustainability Report, Sappi did not appear fully supportive of the South African Carbon Tax, stating that the tax poses a risk to South Africa’s socio-economic development and competitiveness. In a subsequent August 2021 disclosure document, and in its 2021 CDP response, Sappi disclosed that it had successfully influenced South Africa’s Department of National Treasury and Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries to include offsets for carbon sequestration projects into the carbon tax. This protects much of Sappi’s operations from the tax due to the carbon sequestration projects that the company undertakes.

Positioning on Energy Transition: Sappi has disclosed limited positions on the energy transition, generally limited to top-line statements. In a December 2021 PrintWeek article, Sappi appeared to support the transition of the energy sector away from fossil fuels. However, the company does not appear to take a clear position on the specifics of this transition. Similarly, in its 2020 Sustainability Report Sappi appeared to support an increase in renewables in the energy mix, however the pace and extent of this increase was ambiguous. In its 2020 CDP response, Sappi appeared to support “clean energy generation” through comments submitted by one of its industry associations, but with no further details regarding what this included. Additionally, in a November 2019 open letter titled ‘CEO Initiative: Our contribution to EU 2050 climate neutrality’, Sappi’s CEO Berend John Wiersum supported the decarbonization of European industry. In the same open letter, Wiersum appeared to support an increase in bioenergy in the EU energy mix. Wiersum also appeared to support the use of hydrogen, however there was no clear position on the need to decarbonize hydrogen production.

Industry Association Governance: Sappi has disclosed a list of its industry association memberships in its 2021 Sustainability Report, however the company has not disclosed on its industry associations’ positions on climate-related policy, nor has it disclosed the company’s influence on their positions. Sappi has not published an industry association review. Additionally, Sappi’s 2021 CDP response excluded four industry associations that actively engage with climate-policy, including Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA), and National Business Initiative. BUSA, BLSA, and PAMSA have mixed positions on climate change policy.

Strength of Relationship

How to Read our Relationship Score Map

In this section, we depict graphically the relationships the corporation has with trade associations, federations, advocacy groups and other third parties who may be acting on their behalf to influence climate change policy. Each of the columns above represents one relationship the corporation appears to have with such a third party. In these columns, the top, dark section represents the strength of the relationship the corporation has with the influencer. For example if a corporation's senior executive also held a key role in the trade association, we would deem this to be a strong relationship and it would be on the far left of the chart above, with the weaker ones to the right. Click on these grey shaded upper sections for details of these relationships. The middle section contains a link to the organization score details of the influencer concerned, so you can see the details of its climate change policy influence. Click on the middle sections for for details of the trade associations. The lower section contains the organization score of that influencer, the lower the more negatively it is influencing climate policy.