These Companies Are Most Influential in Climate Policy Debates

Industrial Management Consulting
Industrial Management Consulting

Corporate lobbying may matter more than a company’s pollution.

Today, most companies disclose the environmental impact of their operations, even when they’re not required to by law. But corporate climate policies, and how hard companies fight for them, may be even more influential than carbon dioxide emissions. A new report has come up with a way of quantifying which companies are trying hardest to push for or against policies that would lead to less pollution.

The analysts are trying to simplify a tricky problem. By definition, people and companies with influence and power have more leverage than other individuals to change public policy. This power is notoriously difficult to quantify. People or institutions “have” or “hold” power, but not the way they have or hold physical objects such as pencils or cupcakes. Power can “flow” away from these people and over to thosepeople, but not the way that hydrologists calculate the moving volume of a river.

The report, Corporate Carbon Policy Footprint, relies on three main factors to score how companies act in the public arena. The first captures whether a company’s policy and behavior are aligned with—or against—approaches consistent with the Paris Agreement, the international accord to slow climate change supported by all nations except Syria, Nicaragua and the U.S. An “engagement intensity” score reflects how much effort a company puts into supporting its positions. The last metric assumes that political clout follows economic scale and is a function of revenue, profits, market capitalization and assets-owned.

This graphic shows how strongly companies promote or oppose climate policies in line with the Paris Agreement (X-axis) and how intensely they do so (Y-axis), according to the research group InfluenceMap.
SOURCE: InfluenceMap, “Corporate Carbon Policy Footprint”

Of the 50 companies with the most extreme scores, 35 actively oppose climate policy and 15 actively promote it. The authors note that the period since the December 2015 Paris accords has seen increased corporate activity in public climate policy debates.

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