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InfluenceMap’s 2017 Corporate Carbon Policy Footprint quantified companies’ overall impact on the global climate policy agenda. The research was in response to the growing recognition that a corporation’s influence over policy and regulations may have a far more profound impact on climate change than physical emissions associated with operations, suppliers & products.
The 2017 research identified 50 of the most influential companies on climate policy globally, showing the majority (35 companies) were negative (led by US utility Southern Company, ExxonMobil and Chevron) and only 15 were positive. Despite the call for urgent government policy intervention in the IPCC’s 2018 Global Warming of 1.5oC report, as of 2019, this trend remains largely in place with currently 33 of the most influential corporations opposing climate policy, led by Chevron, ExxonMobil and BP. Accordingly, the world has made little progress on meaningful climate policy since 2017 – indeed, many regions like the U.S. have moved in the opposite direction.
The 2019 results show that most of the world's largest corporations are not strategically engaged with climate policy, clustered around the Carbon Policy Footprint Score=0 mark in the graph on page 9 of this report. These include many (e.g. in the retail, tech and healthcare sectors) with strong climate goals for their own companies. Many of these corporations (UPS, Pfizer, Microsoft, Coca Cola) also remain funders of some of the most oppositional and influential trade groups opposing climate policy, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This may effectively undermine any positive impact the companies might have in their own climate policy engagement.
The analysis, drawn from a universe of the world's 250 largest industrial companies, combines metrics representing (a) corporate climate policy positions (b) its level of engagement (lobbying) and (c) a company's economic and political clout, into a Carbon Policy Footprint Score. This score ranges from -100 (highly influential and climate-oppositional) to + 100 (highly influential and climate-positive).
Of the 50 most influential companies who score negatively, the oil/gas sector continues to dominate the list, led by ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP. In March 2019 InfluenceMap released “Big Oil’s Real Agenda on Climate Change,” which found that these three companies along with Shell and Total are spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year on sophisticated messaging strategies to capture the public narrative on climate. At the same time, they are also lobbying to control, delay or block climate regulations globally.
Automotive companies also feature prominently in the list of negative influencers, led by Fiat Chrysler, Daimler and BMW. This is the result of a strategy to control and delay the regulatory agenda on vehicle emissions and electric vehicles (EVs). This may now hinder their ability to adapt quickly to any acceleration of emissions and EV rules with a sudden shift in climate politics globally (e.g. in the US following the 2020 elections). Tesla remains the only auto company in the list of 50 who is supportive of climate policy, perhaps not surprisingly given its EV-based business model.
The analysis found lobbying from companies within the coal value-chain to be highly impactful, although in isolated regions globally. US utility Southern Company has continued to throw its weight behind the fight to remove and replace stringent Obama-era greenhouse gas emission standards for the US power sector in 2017-2019. Glencore has been highly impactful in steering Australia and South Asia towards coal-based energy policy.
Economically powerful tech companies Microsoft, Facebook and Google remain outside of the list of the 50 most influential. They have not translated their climate-positive messaging into strategic, consistent policy engagement. InfluenceMap analysis continues to show that many strategically influential and positive corporations on climate policy are European, which is likely contributing to a modest but important positive trajectory on climate policy in the region. These consist of utilities pushing for renewables policy (Iberdrola, Enel) and industrials like Royal DSM and Phillips. Unilever, which has maintained a consistent effort to support a range of climate policy related to the energy system, is ranked the most influential positive company. US tech giants Apple and Tesla also feature amongst the most influential positive lobbyists on climate change.