Stockholm (NordSIP) – The Laundromat’s mission is to shine a light on the various ways that greenwashing companies and governments are claiming to be acting sustainably while making sure that high-carbon business-as-usual can continue for as long as possible. Luckily, much larger non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and supranational bodies are also on the same mission and have significantly more global clout.
One such scrutineer is the independent think tank InfluenceMap, which has just published its latest Corporate Climate Policy Footprint report 2022. The Top 25 ranking of companies that negatively influence global climate-related policy and actions is constructed using a methodology that considers the size and political reach of each firm. Unsurprisingly, six US oil companies appear in the list, including the top two firms Chevron and ExxonMobil. However, companies in other sectors are also actively moving against climate policy action. These include German chemicals producer BASF and steel makers Nippon Steel Corporation, JFE Steel and ArcelorMittal. Other significant sectors in the ranking are US utilities and transport, the latter represented by Toyota, Lufthansa and BMW.
Top Ten most negative and influential companies on climate policy
The InfluenceMap report highlights a fundamental issue in greenwashing, one which the Laundromat has focused on in recent articles on plastic waste and fast fashion: favourable ESG ratings, long-term corporate environmental targets and high levels of disclosure are meaningless if unaccompanied by concrete, positive action and behavioural change. 80% of the 25 worst companies in the InfluenceMap ranking have made net-zero commitments, and almost half of them are ranked A- or higher by the CDP for climate-related disclosure. These firms make all the right noises in public and would get away with their greenwashing attempts were it not for the additional scrutiny carried out by organisations like ShareAction and InfluenceMap. The report also ranks the worst culprits among industry associations, which include the American Petroleum Institute, US Chamber of Commerce and BusinessEurope.
According to InfluenceMap Director Ed Collins, “major companies and their trade groups have significant clout when it comes to the scope and ambition of climate policy. And while a growing number of organisations are advocating for Paris-aligned policy, many still are not. The dominance of fossil fuel companies at the top of this year’s list reflects the significant geopolitical factors that have impacted on climate policy over the past 12 months, and the more active role these organisations have taken in pushing for expanded oil and gas production. Many of the companies on the list have top-line commitments to addressing climate change, but continue to push back on specific policies designed to achieve that. As world leaders prepare to meet in Egypt for COP27, it’s important that participants understand the level of corporate influence over the direction climate policy.”
The message to investors is clear: while it is important to assess the risks climate change poses to portfolio companies, it is also crucial to consider the negative impact these same firms are having on the climate through their negative lobbying and obstruction of environmental policy action. This can often be in direct contradiction with corporate climate commitments and external ESG ratings. Finally, on a more positive note InfluenceMap also tracks the good guys in its A-List of Climate Policy Engagement.