Exxon, Chevron, & Toyota Are The Largest Anti-Climate Lobbyists, Says InfluenceMap

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There’s a good chance you have never heard of InfluenceMap. I hadn’t either until today, when I read about it in a news report published in The Guardian. On its website, it says it is, “an independent think tank that provides data and analysis on how business and finance are affecting the climate crisis.”

‘We place great importance on evidence-based assessment using reliable data and rigorous methodologies. Our work is used extensively by powerful actors in finance, business, campaigns, policymaking, and the media to drive meaningful change. InfluenceMap is philanthropically funded and based in London, with offices in Tokyo and New York.”

Its latest report was released this week and is entitled, “The 50 Most Influential Companies and Industry Associations Blocking Climate Policy Action Globally.” Well, that sounds like interesting reading, so I opened it up and found that Exxon, Chevron, and Toyota are listed as the top three corporate bad actors who are lobbying against any and all measures designed to keep the Earth from overheating to the point where humans can’t survive on it any more.

Edward Collins, director of InfluenceMap, says,

“Paris Agreement-aligned transition to a clean energy future is going to remain extremely challenging until countries take meaningful action to address the obstructive lobbying of vested interests from fossil fuel value chain sectors. The corporate playbook for holding back climate policy has come a long way from science denialism, but it is every bit as damaging.

“The world is starting to wake up to the impact companies are having through their policy influence. In many cases, this policy influence massively overshadows the direct climate impacts of their operations and products. It is high time that the major corporations engaging in such practices, along with the industry associations that support them, are held accountable for this.”

The report says “a corporation’s influence over policy and regulations may have a far more profound impact on climate change than the physical emissions associated with the Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions impacts of its operations, suppliers and products. InfluenceMap terms this as “Scope 4 impact” to illustrate that systemic policy influencing by companies needs to be considered alongside physical emissions when evaluating a company and climate change (emphasis added).”

InfluenceMap’s platform covers over 350 of the largest industrial companies globally,” the report says. The top five most negatively influential global companies on Paris-aligned climate policies are, in order: ExxonMobil, Chevron, Toyota, Southern Company, and Sempra.

US oil companies are solidly represented in the list of Top 25 anti-climate lobbying activists globally. ConocoPhillips is 7th, Phillips 66 is 12th, Valero Energy is 13th, and Occidental Petroleum is 22nd. “The results reflect intense resistance by the sector to the Biden Administration’s efforts to transition the US economy away from fossil fuels,” the report says.

“Toyota Motor has campaigned against proposed regulations globally to phase out internal combustion engines in favor of electric vehicles in 2020-21 and ranks 3rd on InfluenceMap’s list of global companies most negatively influencing Paris-aligned climate policy. It is joined by BMW (18th), Daimler (24th) and Hyundai (25th) from the automotive sector, which as a group is highly negative on stringent climate regulation on the automotive sector.”

Coal advocacy is down, but lobbying in favor of planet-killing (un)natural gas is on the rise from such companies as BP (9th), OMV (10th), and Gazprom (17th). The rankings also include fossil fuel-focused utilities such as Southern Company (4th), American Electric Power (11th), and Duke Energy (15th), as well as Sempra (5th).

The Dirtiest Trade Associations

“The top five most negatively influential industry associations are the American Petroleum Institute, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Mining Association (US) and BusinessEurope. In total, 13 of the 25 most obstructive industry associations globally directly represent fossil energy sectors.

“However, the analysis also highlights the role of highly powerful cross-sector business federations that continue to pose a significant blockage for global climate action. The US Chamber of Commerce (3rd), BusinessEurope (5th), the California Chamber of Commerce (8th), the Federation of German Industries (9th), the National Association of Manufacturers (16th), the Japanese Business Federation (17th), and the Federation of Korean Industries (22nd) all feature amongst the top 25 industry groups with the largest, negative policy footprints globally.”

The Good News

The InfluenceMap report does applaud some companies for pursuing meaningful Paris-aligned climate policies, among them Unilever, Nestlé, IKEA, and Tesla, as well as utilities that focus on renewable energy such as Iberdrola, Enel, Ørsted, and Edison International. Despite those bright spots, however, the United Nations Environmental Program’s 2021 Emissions Gap Report clearly shows that policy plans globally are only on track to limit global temperature rise to 2.7°C by the end of the century. That, people, is a recipe for disaster, and we can thank those lobbying efforts for pushing the world over the brink.

The Corporate Conundrum

We seem unable to comprehend the extent to which corporations are now more powerful than many nations. When the US Constitution was written, the sovereign power of the country was deemed to reside in the citizenry (well, the white male property-owning citizenry, at least.) Today, the people have little power, and corporations are the new sovereigns.

America is run to suit the needs and whims of corporations. John Roberts and his cabal of right wing political hacks on the Supreme Court are all people who suckled at the breast of the Federalist Society, an organization founded and nurtured by the biggest fossil fuel advocate of them all, Charles Koch. (How do you know when someone is a political hack? When he or she strenuously professes not to be one, as alleged justice Sam The Sham Alito did recently.)

Koch and his cronies fund political campaigns like the Tea Party and pay to get people who are vehement opponents of government elected. They own the Supreme Court and the Congress as well as a large number of state governments, all of whom wake up in the morning committed to doing the bidding of these gigantic corporations. Whether it is parking money offshore where it is safe from the IRS or clamoring for lower taxes on corporations and CEOs, they do violence to the social fabric of America every day.

Recently, CleanTechnica published a story about three new investments made by Amazon’s $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund. In it, we took Amazon to task for lobbying against part of Joe Biden’s climate agenda. We were contacted by a representative of the company who felt we were too harsh in our criticism and asked us to remove the offending language. We refused. It is documented that the Business Roundtable, which Amazon CEO Andy Jassy is a member of, has been lobbying against the Biden proposals. In the end, we agreed to add the representative’s remarks as an addendum to the article.

Corporate Culture Runs Wild

Here’s the thing. Corporations like to say they have all the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, especially the right of free speech. In a hearing before Congress recently, Exxon CEO Darren Woods essentially said his company has every right to fudge the facts about climate change because as an American corporation, it is entitled to speak freely. Apparently Woods is not enough of a constitutional scholar to remember the words of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. about falsely yelling “Fire!’ in a crowded theater.

The issue is that corporations want all the rights of a citizen, but none of the responsibilities. They don’t want to pay taxes. They don’t want to pay an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work. They don’t want family leave, affordable health insurance, or any semblance of a fair and inclusive society. They just want to be left alone to make money, and the nation, the planet, and the people be damned.

The point is this: To whom much is given, much is expected. Even Andrew Carnegie, who was as brutal an industrialist as you are ever likely to meet, said, “Surplus wealth is a sacred trust which its possessor is bound to administer in his lifetime for the good of the community.” There’s precious little of that spirit evident among the rapacious corporations of the world today.

If you want to be a citizen, fine. Step up and do the heavy lifting that citizenship requires. You don’t get to choose which parts of being a citizen you want to abide by and which you choose not to. It’s an all or nothing proposition, and in the words of the Bible, you have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.

What part of “Your business will be worthless when all your customers are dead and gone” do you not understand?

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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