Corporate climate leadership can no longer be confined to company walls. It entails bold and consistent climate ambition across all routes to policy. One such route is through trade associations and industry group engagement.
Trade groups’ negative lobbying on climate policy is a key factor in diluting climate policy ambition and disrupting business’ policy ambition loop. Companies may set ambitious climate targets, aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, while the trade associations they belong to lobby for policy in direct opposition to these goals. This, in turn, inhibits companies’ ability to fulfill their corporate climate commitments.
Often, this happens without companies even knowing it. But they can stop it. One way to do so is by reviewing their memberships with trade associations and assessing whether these groups’ climate policy positions and lobbying activities are aligned with their own ambition. Frequently, trade associations hold the ‘lowest common denominator’ climate change policy positions of their least ambitious members. This puts them out of step with many of their other members’ corporate goals.
To help companies tackle this misalignment, The B Team has put together a toolkit: Addressing Trade Association Misalignment on Climate Policy. This toolkit provides companies with a menu of options offering varying levels of engagement to identify and address inconsistencies. These options range from private to public and individual to collective action. They’re fit for any company’s preference in how they’d like to engage their trade associations and what policy positions they’d like to raise.
The time for companies to take action on this misalignment could not be more urgent. Governments worldwide have developed stimulus packages of unprecedented amounts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This environment opens itself up to lobbying—often counter to the Paris Agreement. Governments are also issuing these stimulus packages amid shifting public sentiment toward trade associations. Investors, media, politicians and member companies have all challenged trade groups on their positions as the impacts of the climate crisis become increasingly visible.
There’s no time to waste in advocating for ambitious, science-based climate policy. And there’s also no time to waste in advocating against climate policy that does not align with the Paris Agreement. We encourage you to take the steps outlined in the toolkit and share it with your peers to spark collective action.