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Does Corporate Europe Support Climate Policy?

April 2022

Background and Overview

In 2020, under the framework of the European Green Deal, the European Union (EU) committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. This landmark agreement initiated a far-reaching review process to bring existing climate policy in line with the increased ambition.

An interim greenhouse gas reduction target of 55% by 2030, agreed in April 2021, forms the basis for this package of policy reviews, dubbed the ‘Fit for 55 Package’. The package was presented by the EU Commission in July 2021 and enters negotiations in the Parliament and Council throughout 2022 and 2023.

About the EU platform

InfluenceMap released its first report on corporate lobbying on climate policy in the EU in 2016, and has since significantly expanded its analysis to continually track the policy engagement activity of over 70 companies and 30 industry associations headquartered in the EU.

The platform findings include an overall ranking for each company and industry association based on InfluenceMap’s A-to-F system of scoring, based on support for – or opposition to – Paris-aligned policy. It also hosts an interactive tool to explore the links between companies and their industry associations.

Users of the platform can also examine how companies and trade associations are lobbying on specific policies. The analysis tracks 11 key policies within the ‘Fit for 55’ Package, providing insights on key influencing positions, corporate coalitions, and lobbying-linked impacts, as well as weekly alerts.

Overview of results

The Corporate landscape

The platform covers the companies most relevant to climate change in Europe, as judged by the ClimateAction100+ investor initiative and InfluenceMap’s A List of climate policy engagement. InfluenceMap’s analysis ranks companies based on their overall support or opposition to Paris-aligned climate policy, both in their direct policy engagement and indirect policy engagements via their major trade associations.

EU Climate Leadership Held Back

A level of corporate support for climate policy has been crucial in establishing European leadership on climate action. However, strategic opposition from some sectors, primarily heavy industry, energy, and transportation, risks jeopardizing policies that must remain intact if the EU is to realize its Paris Agreement-aligned climate ambitions.

The European Climate Lobbying Landscape

The diagram below charts the Total Score and global Engagement Intensity for the companies and industry associations operating in Europe that are most significant to climate change.

Companies in the top right exhibit active and supportive policy engagement, while those in the top left are active and oppositional. Companies towards the bottom of the quadrant are less actively engaged on climate policy.

Shift in EU Company Positions

The charts below break down the universe of major European companies scored by InfluenceMap by their Organisation Score, an assessment of their direct policy engagement activities

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Shift in EU Company Positions

InfluenceMap has detected a significant shift in corporate climate policy engagement in the EU, with 26% of companies now broadly aligned with the Paris Agreement in their direct policy engagement up from 4% in 2018.

Many companies have also shifted from opposing to Paris Agreement-aligned policy, to adopting mixed positions. The proportion of companies opposing climate policy has dropped from 33% in 2018 to 21% in 2022.

This reform is often only partial, for example many companies support some forms of climate policy, often high-level ambition for emissions reductions, subsidies and incentives, but remain oppositional to tougher regulatory measures. In 2022, 53% of companies had mixed alignment with the Paris Agreement.

The utilities, consumer and retail sectors lead in supportive policy engagement, while other sectors – including aviation, metals & mining – remain clear laggards.

Shift in EU Industry Association Positions

The graphs below break down the universe of major European industry associations scored by InfluenceMap by their Organisation Score, an assessment of their direct policy engagement activities

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Industry Associations Slower to Reform

In contrast to the marked positive shift among companies, only 11% of industry associations covered by the LobbyMap platform are broadly aligned with the Paris Agreement in their policy engagement activities in 2022, up from 6% in 2018. 

44% of industry associations remain opposed to Paris Agreement-aligned climate policy in 2022, down from 67% in 2018.

While this is a significant shift, the fact that almost half of industry associations remain opposed to climate policy highlights a concerning dynamic whereby the more positive shift in company-level policy engagement is not being fully reflected in industry association positions.

Increasing Divergence Within Sectors

While average scores for companies in certain sectors have improved since 2017, particularly consumer staples (+16%), industrials (+15%), others have only demonstrated minor improvements, particularly transportation (+1.6%).

In the transportation sector, there is increasing divergence between companies’ direct engagement with climate policy, creating complex lobbying dynamics between companies and within sector representative industry associations. 

This is most notable in the automotive sector, where a split has opened up between Volkswagen Group, Volvo Cars and Volvo Group on the one hand, and Renault, Daimler and BMW Group on the other, while Stellantis remains the EU laggard.

Automotive Sector Divergence Over Time

2018

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2022

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The 15 most engaged companies in the EU

The diagram below shows the most highly engaged companies on EU climate policy. The values show the number of times the company has lobbied on ‘Fit for 55’ policies tracked on this platform during 2020-21.

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The 15 most engaged industry associations in the EU

The diagram below shows the most highly engaged industry associations on EU climate policy. The values show the number of times the industry association has lobbied on ‘Fit for 55’ policies tracked on this platform during 2020-21.

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The Influence of Industry Associations

While the majority of the top five most engaged companies on EU climate policy are broadly aligned with the Paris Agreement in their lobbying (grade B and above), the majority of the top five most engaged industry associations are broadly misaligned (D and below).

The power of industry association lobbying is demonstrated by the notable difference in instances of engagement between the most engaged companies and industry associations, with industry associations engaging almost twice as frequently as companies.

While supportive companies are working actively to advocate in favor of climate policy, InfluenceMap's analysis indicates that industry associations remain largely aligned with the minority of companies pushing against Paris Agreement-aligned climate policy. Unsupportive entities are therefore able to leverage significant influence via highly engaged industry associations, while the positions of supportive companies benefit far less from the power of industry associations.

Impact on Climate Policy

Overall, InfluenceMap found that the most common corporate engagement on the ‘Fit for 55’ files analyzed was unsupportive. So far this influence has resulted in a reduction in policy ambition across the majority of 'Fit for 55' package files, benchmarked against the high ambition options considered in the EU Commission impact assessments. 

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  • EU Emissions Trading System Revision (EU ETS)
  • Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM)
  • Energy Taxation Directive
  • FuelEU Maritime
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  • Effort Sharing Regulation
  • Energy Efficiency Directive
  • EU ETS II 
  • Renewable Energy Directive
  • Alternative Fuels Infrastructure
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  • CO2 Standards for Light Duty Vehicles
  • ReFuelEU Aviation

Priority Policies for H1 2022

InfluenceMap’s EU platform’s ‘Policy Tracker’ provides full detail of policy influencing developments across key files within the Fit for 55 package.

It is designed as a resource for interventions, engagement and reporting on the legislating of Paris-aligned climate policy that is at risk of being weakened or undermined by oppositional corporate and industry influence. 

In January 2022, the French Ecology Minister announced priority climate policies within the ‘Fit for 55’ Package to fast-track during its EU presidency, including the CBAM, the EU ETS update, CO2 Standards for Light Duty Vehicles and the Energy Efficiency Directive.

All four policies are scheduled undergo key votes in the EU Parliament in April-June 2022. 

Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) and the EU ETS

An alternative to existing carbon leakage protections measures, the CBAM would replace free emissions allowances under the EU ETS.

Key lobbying focus

Heavy industry actors, in particular the steel industry, including Eurofer, ArcelorMittal, and thyssenkrupp in November and December 2021, have focused lobbying on opposing the CBAM proposal to phase out free allocation in the EU ETS from 2026

Battle in Parliament

The EU Parliament has proposed a far more ambitious timeline for phasing out free allowances, setting up a policy influencing battle ahead of the Environment Committee’s vote on the proposal in May 2022.

Evidence Profile

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Energy Efficiency Directive Review

The EU Commission’s proposal for the Energy Efficiency Directive introduced an ambitious increase in the ‘energy savings obligation’ for member states.

Key lobby focus

The increased energy savings obligation has attracted strong, cross-sector push-back, including from the International Federation of Industrial Energy Consumers (IFIEC), FuelsEurope and the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), cross sector associations such as BusinessEurope and the utilities sector, including Eurelectric.

Battle in the Council

This push-back appears to have already translated into opposition within the EU Council, as several member states reportedly described the energy savings obligation as “too ambitious” in December 2021.

Evidence Profile

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CO2 Standards for Light Duty Vehicles

The EU Commission has proposed an ambitious 2035 zero-emissions CO2 target for light duty vehicles, coupled with an interim target of 55% by 2030.

Key lobby focus

The 2035 standard has been strongly opposed throughout the fossil fuel value chain, including by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA), and FuelsEurope. However, Volkswagen and Volvo Cars split with the rest of the automotive sector in H2 2021, welcoming the 2035 target, which is supported by some members of the renewable energy sector.

Risk in the Council

Despite ambitious proposals from the Commission and Parliament, the French Presidency appears to support a later zero emissions date of 2040, creating a risk that the proposal is watered down in the EU Council.

Evidence Profile

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Resources

The EU's Green Deal vs The Fossil Gas Industry

February, 2022

An analysis of industry's playbook to promote fossil gas in Europe

European Automotive Suppliers & EU Climate Policy

January 13th, 2022

How Auto Parts Makers are Lobbying to Delay EU’s Decarbonization Agenda

German Automakers And Climate Policy

November, 2021

German automakers dominate the fight to weaken climate regulation

Corporate Climate Policy Footprint

November, 2021

The 50 Most Influential Companies and Industry Associations Blocking Climate Policy Action Globally

Industry Associations and European Climate Ambition

July, 2021

These groups are funded by some of Europe’s largest corporations including Volkswagen Group, LafargeHolcim, TotalEnergies, Repsol, and ArcelorMittal, all of whom are now touting net-zero targets for climate, as well as supporting climate science and the UNFCCC process in the run-up to COP26.

The Aviation Industry and European Climate Policy

June, 2021

New research shows the aviation sector has emerged as one of the strongest opponents of climate policy in Europe. While many industrial sectors are in the process of transformation in response to the EU’s strengthened climate agenda, the aviation sector has instead pursued a lobbying strategy to ...

CEOs Challenge Industry Associations on Climate Policy

May, 2021

Amid the escalating climate emergency and resurgence of global political will to address it, a rift has emerged between groups representing the voice of business on climate policy in the EU, Japan and the US.

CA100+ Target Companies and the EU Taxonomy

April, 2021

Despite the CA100+ initiative having clear expectations on Paris-aligned lobbying, only 2 of the 31 CA100+ target companies found to be engaging on the taxonomy appear to be supportive of its science-based guidance with 4 companies advocating mixed or unclear positions, leaving more than 80% push...

The Battle For Ambitious EV Policy in the UK

March 2021

The UK Government’s ambitions on transport decarbonization are likely at risk due to the influence of a minority group of automotive interests opposed to binding policy on an internal combustion engine (ICE) phase out.

Gas & Power Companies Divided on the EU's Taxonomy

February 2021

European companies backing robust, science-based regulation on CO2 emissions under the EU Sustainable Finance Taxonomy are also performing better on stock markets when compared with their peers that are opposing the same policy, according to analysis of InfluenceMap's policy position scores and f...