Investors to create framework to identify anti-climate lobbying by companies

Move comes as climate lobbying moves up AGM agenda

Swedish pension fund AP7, BNP Paribas Asset Management and the Church of England Pensions Board are developing a framework to help investors assess whether a company’s lobbying practices are hindering regulation on climate change.

The investors are working with consultant Chronos Sustainability. 

Helena Viñes Fiestas, Deputy Global Head of Sustainability at BNP Paribas Asset Management said the framework would help its dialogue with companies on transparency around lobbying practices and alignment with the Paris Agreement.  

Lobbying has risen up the agenda at this year’s AGM season. BNP Paribas Asset Management has led lobbying proposals at Chevron, Delta Airlines and United Airlines, asking that companies disclose the extent to which their lobbying practices are aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

A resolution on lobbying made Australian corporate history this year after a proposal calling on fossil fuel giant Santos to ramp up its disclosure around climate-related lobbying was backed by 46.35% of investors, and supported by proxy advisory firms ISS, Glass Lewis and PIRC.

The corporate lobbying framework will identify the ways companies and their proxies exert influence on the policy process – in support of, or seeking to defuse or delay, climate- related regulation – and define how these activities should be managed and overseen by companies. The research will also assess gaps in approaches to lobbying, and will develop a means for analysing, assessing and comparing corporate practices on lobbying. 

It will feed into existing efforts from the likes of the Transition Pathway Initiative, and seeks to enable investors to identify companies that lobby positively on the Paris Accord and those that act effectively when trade associations undermine a company’s own climate change commitments. 

Charlotta Dawidowski Sydstrand, AP7’s Sustainability Strategist, said: “We find it unacceptable that at this point in time companies still counteract ambitious climate policy, either directly or through their business organisations. We are championing this research project in order to provide greater understanding of what good practice looks like when it comes to lobbying on climate issues.” 

It is intended that the framework will be ready by the autumn, and feed into preparation for 2021 engagement plans as well as COP26 in Glasgow next November. 

The development of the framework – which seeks to build on and complement work conducted by InfluenceMap and others – will be led by Dr Rory Sullivan of Chronos Sustainability, supported by Dr Richard Perkins of the London School of Economics and Political Science.