Climate change is increasingly manifesting around the world. Past international environmental crises – such as acid rain or ozone depletion – have been remedied only by strong political governance and binding regulation. By comparison, the policy response to climate change has been starkly inadequate. For example, 20 years after Kyoto, fewer than 15% of emissions are covered by binding carbon pricing systems. This inaction is due to unprecedented lobbying by industry with ties to the fossil fuel economy. The five largest publicly-traded oil and gas majors (ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP and Total) have invested over $1Billion of shareholder funds in the three years following the Paris Agreement on misleading climate-related branding and lobbying.The world’s five largest publicly owned oil and gas companies spend approximately $200 million every year on climate lobbying – controlling, delaying or blocking binding climate-motivated policy
Since the prospect of regulation began to appear likely in the late 1980s, corporate lobbyists have employed two strategies to hinder climate policy progress. Firstly, capture of the public narrative on climate change (including climate denial) and, secondly, direct lobbying to block or dilute binding regulatory measures.
In the past, companies like Exxon have sought to weaken the scientific consensus on climate through adverts, strategic CEO messaging and the funding of think tanks. However, as the global climate consensus has strengthened, this strategy has evolved; for example, companies have conceded that climate change is man-made but have continued to question the extent of its impact or consequences for business.
Following the establishment of the Paris Agreement in 2015, the proportion of the world’s largest industrial companies in InfluenceMap’s survey directly opposing climate policy has decreased from 45% to 30%. However, this promising trend is countered by ongoing opposition to binding climate policy from powerful trade groups and an uptick in opposition from the automotive and coal sectors over the last three years.The current lobbying landscape sees the majority of industrial companies in sectors like retail and healthcare not strategically involved in climate policy. The fossil fuel value chain continues its opposition countered by an increasing number of tech, utility and consumer goods companies (e.g. Apple, Unilever) who want strong policy to support their climate goals.