Four major European institutional investors are urging corporations like BP, Volkswagen, and Nestle to review their climate change lobbying policies.
The Church of England Pensions Board, Sweden’s national pension fund AP7, Legal and General Investment Management (LGIM), and Dutch asset manager Robeco, which together represent $2 trillion in assets, have sent letters to 55 companies urging them to complete a review of their lobbying policies.
The Church of England announced that these letters were sent on Sunday.
The letters come at a pivotal time for climate change activism. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report October 8 that shows that the effects of climate change are taking hold earlier than expected. The United Nations will begin climate negotiations in 2020, which makes the letters even more vital, according to the Church of England's announcement.
“Misleading and misaligned corporate lobbying practices undermine the ability of governments to act on climate change and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement,” said Adam Matthews, director of ethics and engagement at the Church of England Pensions Board, in a statement. “The influence of trade associations is often exerted behind closed doors and can be deeply insidious to public policy making on climate change.”
The companies targeted were classified as high-emitting and were selected based on data assessed by InfluenceMap, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that monitors company lobbying activity, according to the Church of England Pensions Board’s announcement.Others targeted include National Grid, BMW Group, and Philips, a spokesperson for the Church of England Pensions Board said via email.
InfluenceMap scored the companies for their overall climate change position, the extent of their influence, and whether their publicly stated views on climate change were reflected by the trade associations working on their behalf, according to the Church of England’s announcement.
The letters asked the chair of each company to review their company’s trade association memberships. If any of the trade associations they belong to engage in lobbying that is inconsistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement, the institutional investors are urging the companies to “ensure they adopt positions which are in line with these goals.”
“Lobbying on climate issues should be evaluated, managed and reported on transparently,” said AP7’s ESG manager, Charlotta Dawidowski Sydstrand, in a statement. “We are hoping this will become a natural component of companies’ sustainability reporting.”
The letters are also seeking clarity on the companies’ own lobbying policies, according to the announcement.
“As the recent report from the IPCC clearly highlighted, the stakes are high and time is against us,” Matthews said in a statement. “It is therefore right that investors are challenging Europe’s most high-emitting companies to ensure consistency in their lobbying practices.”
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Spokespeople for AP7, LGIM, and Robeco could not be reached via email for comment on the letters.
A spokesperson for BP declined to comment. Spokespeople from Volkswagen, Nestle, and BMW did not respond to an email seeking comment. Spokespeople from National Grid and Philips did not return phone calls seeking comment.