Leading investors call on FTSE100 companies to quit climate lobbying groups

by Search Gate staff. Published Wed 02 Sep 2015 10:32, Last updated: 2015-09-02
Top firms urged to quit climate lobby groups
Top firms urged to quit climate lobby groups

A global coalition of 25 institutional investors with over forty five billion pounds in assets under management is calling on nine major publicly listed companies to review their membership of lobbying groups that seek to undermine EU climate policy.

The investors have written to BHP Billiton, BP, EDF, Glencore, Johnson Matthey, Proctor and Gamble, Rio Tinto, Statoil and Total expressing concern that the companies declared climate policies are undermined by membership of lobby groups with a track record of obstructive lobbying on climate change policy.

The move comes as companies have come under increasing pressure to withdraw from regressive lobbying groups, with Unilever leaving Business Europe and BP and Shell exiting ALEC over climate policy.

Arne Lööw, Head of Corporate Governance at AP4 (Fourth Swedish National Pension Fund) said: “As we approach important UN negotiations on climate change, AP4 (Fourth Swedish National Pension Fund) is pleased to support this initiative.

“We believe it is important that investors put pressure on companies who are financing associations seeking to undermine climate legislation, and would encourage companies to withdraw from associations who have lobbied in ways which seem inconsistent with the companies´ own statements on climate action.”

Based on evidence from a recent publication from the Policy Studies Institute (PSI) at the University of Westminster, the letters highlight the obstructive lobbying undertaken on behalf of the companies by EU trade associations including Cefic, BusinessEurope and FuelsEurope.

PSI’s research shows how these organisations have sought to weaken policies on emissions reductions and renewable energy. The lobbying on climate policy that they undertake is often at odds with the more progressive statements on the need for action on climate change the companies have publicly made.

Investors signing the letters come from three continents and include: Boston Common Asset Management, AP4 Swedish National Pension Fund, The Pensions Trust, UNISON Staff Pension Scheme, Australian Ethical Investment, Barrow Cadbury, Christopher Reynolds Foundation, The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Walden Asset Management, Sarasin & Partners LLP, Arjuna Capital, Jesuits in Britain, Zevin Asset Management LLC, Effective Assets, Barrow Cadbury Trust, LankellyChase Foundation, Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation, The Baring Foundation, Ashden Trust, JJ Charitable Trust, Mark Leonard Trust, Tellus Mater Foundation, Mercy Investment Services Inc. and Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment.

Catherine Howarth, Chief Executive at ShareAction, said: “These international investors are united in the need to challenge companies who belong to trade associations that lobby obstructively behind closed doors to weaken climate policy in the EU.

“Tackling the problem of climate change should be high on the agenda of responsible investors worldwide. Our pension funds in particular have an important role to play in ensuring their portfolios are protected over the long term from the economic damage of climate change.”

Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network Europe, added: "We welcome this initiative. It has been clear for a while now that BusinessEurope does not represent the interests of the business community. BusinessEurope's efforts to water down climate policies disregard the desire of many in the business community to tackle the climate challenge.

“They also result in many European companies missing out on investment opportunities in renewable energy and losing benefits to their competitors in other parts of the world. It is good to see that leading investors condemn the short-sightedness of such obstructive lobby groups.”

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