Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

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London, United Kingdom

Climate Lobbying Overview: The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has become increasingly positive in its positioning on climate policy, and is highly engaged on the issue. CBI’s top-line promotion of climate action is mostly in line with its lobbying of specific climate regulations, although the organization has continued to take cautious positions on carbon taxes and emissions trading.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: CBI appears to be highly supportive of top-line climate ambition in its public messaging. In a 2020 report, CBI advocated for increased ambition and urgency from Government regulation as part of its recovery from Covid-19 to set the UK on a strong decarbonization pathway to net zero. The association has since continued strong support for further climate action in the UK, advocating for the Government to urgently fill in the gaps across the UK’s ‘Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’ in a report in June 2021. CBI also appears to be supportive of climate action in the EU, expressing support in a 2020 report for a net-zero target by 2050. CBI appears to strongly support increasing global ambition on climate, for example in a 2021 tweet ahead of the US climate summit it voiced business support for ambitious government action.

Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: CBI appears to support increasing 2030 GHG emissions reduction targets, welcoming the UK’s new target on Twitter in 2020. Earlier in 2020 the CBI also Tweeted support for the EU’s proposed 2030 target. CBI appears to support most specific climate policies, for example, in a 2020 briefing CBI described how it had consistently supported onshore wind in the UK, attributing the reversal of the Government’s “onshore wind ban” to its lobbying efforts.

CBI has communicated more cautious positions relating to carbon taxation. In a 2021 report CBI supported the ‘polluter pays’ principle of carbon taxation but emphasized the potential negative impacts of “taxing ‘bad’ too much”. On carbon border taxation, a 2019 report appeared to recognize the potential benefits of a carbon border tax but highlighted challenges relating to the policy, suggesting that other deliverables should be prioritized first. CBI’s recent engagement on carbon taxation does, however, mark a slight improvement on its positions from 2015 to 2017, when it advocated for a freeze of the UK carbon price support.

CBI is broadly supportive of emissions trading, and advocated in a 2021 report for the UK to link its proposed Emissions Trading System to the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). However, in a 2020 briefing CBI appeared not to support a reform of emissions permitting in the EU ETS, advocating for the continuation of measures such as free allowances for energy intensive industries.

Positioning on energy mix: CBI has previously taken positions that appear unsupportive of an urgent transition towards a zero-emission economy, for example in 2018 the organization supported a role for fossil gas in the energy mix, as well as the expansion of Heathrow Airport. However, CBI’s 2021 Green Recovery Roadmap supported a raft of policies to decarbonize the economy, including support for a delivery plan for the phase out of internal combustion engines by 2030 and a ban on new fossil gas boilers by 2035. In a March 2021 UK Government consultation response, CBI also supported specific measures to increase renewable energy deployment in line with net zero.