Why fossil fuel lobbyists are dominating climate policy during Covid-19

Fossil fuel lobbyists are winning climate-related policy battles as governments worldwide make plans to stimulate their economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This grim news comes in InfluenceMap’s newest report on the state of the climate lobby post-COVID-19.

The report shows that companies across the fossil fuel value chain, including the oil, gas, coal, automotive and aviation sectors, have used the pandemic to mobilise powerful networks of lobbyists to secure quick wins on climate deregulation and financial stimulus. Fossil fuel companies are coming out on top in recovery packages and this requires action from across the political and business spectrum. In this blog, we discuss the report’s key findings, the impact it’s had, and where to go from here.

Who are InfluenceMap?

InfluenceMap is a corporate climate lobbying platform that launched with the Paris Agreement in 2015. They take an objective, innovative and data-driven approach to identifying systemic blockages to climate progress. They then use strong communication to empower their partners to push for positive change. Greenhouse has been working with InfluenceMap to help them communicate their findings and promote their crucial work.

Key findings of the report

  • The oil and gas sector has been both the most active and the most successful, pressing for financial interventions that favour fossil fuel production, and for the rollback of existing climate policy. Of 31 interventions, 64% have been “completely” or “mostly successful”. 
  • The aviation sector has been similarly effective – with five of its eight lobbying engagements “completely” or “mostly successful” at securing financial support for airlines and airports with minimal environmental conditions attached. 
  • Progressive cross-sector business coalitions pushing for a Paris-aligned ‘green’ recovery have generally limited their interventions to top-line statements and open letters. Of seven interventions only two so far have been (at least) “partially successful”.  

RecoveryMap

The findings come from InfluenceMap’s new platform RecoveryMap. A tool to provide real-time access to this data and analysis of their activities. RecoveryMap tracks climate change-relevant interventions made during the COVID-19 crisis. It combines continually updated analysis of COVID-19 related climate lobbying with databases tracking key central banks’ corporate debt purchasing programmes. The tool aims to provide clear, data-driven analysis on how corporate interests and central banks are affecting the economic recovery from COVID-19 in climate-relevant ways.

Impact

This report comes as a wake up call not just to the climate lobby. The news that fossil fuel lobbyists are consistently coming out on top in stimulus packages is a stark reminder that much more needs to be done for this to truly be a green recovery.

This report has hit hard. Dylan Tanner – Executive Director of InfluenceMap launched it at a Reuters event last week with the quote:

Fossil fuel interests have successfully seized the opportunity and are using COVID-19 to roll back climate regulations. At present, the top line statements from progressive corporates and investors cannot match this. Corporate representatives like the US Chamber of Commerce and BusinessEurope need to engage more forcefully and in a positive way for climate. If they do not, as it stands, Build Back Better will turn out to be Build Back Much Worse for Climate.”

As a thought leader in the climate lobby his words will undoubtedly carry weight as businesses and individuals consider the actions the government are taking right now. This is a time that is not merely seen as ‘post-Covid’, but is also the run up to COP26. This is a time when the UK is expected to be showing world beating climate leadership.

What does the media say?

Greenhouse is proud to have provided media support for this release and managed to obtain coverage in a number of publications including TIME and HuffPost.

Alexander Kaufman of the HuffPost US noted that: “The lobbying successes extend beyond plastics. Between March and July, 64% of the oil and gas industry’s global efforts to increase financial support for fossil fuel production or roll back climate regulations were either “completely” or “mostly successful,” according to a study published Thursday by InfluenceMap”

Danny Magill, Analyst at InfluenceMap and the report’s author, said: “Our research shows the extent to which lobbyists representing fossil fuel related companies have geared up to oppose Paris-aligned climate policy amid the COVID crisis. The majority of large corporations aligning their messaging with economists, civil society and other stakeholders pushing for a green recovery must step up and match this tactical lobbying, or the world risks returning to the status quo on climate or even backsliding.”

The climate lobby must step up

In this time, it is imperative that the government shows a clear direction with their commitment to solving the climate crisis. This report highlights that the government is failing to back up its words during the post-Covid recovery period. The concept of a green recovery has been widely supported across the UK, however, the government’s stimulus packages to date show that they are bowing to pressure from the fossil lobby rather than championing the long term needs of the country.

You can read the full report here.

Greenhouse PR works with organisations and leaders who are pioneering climate action. Whether it’s food, fashion, finance or farming, if you’ve got a great story and need our help to tell it, get in touch with the Greenhouse team on 0117 214 1250 or email info@greenhousepr.co.uk

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