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Investors urge companies to leave anti-climate lobbying groups

anti-climate lobbying

Creative Commons: Connect Euranet, 2012

In the latest sign that investors do not want their money funding harmful climate change, a global coalition of 25 institutional investors with over €61 billion (£45 billion) in assets is calling on nine major publicly listed companies to cut  their ties with EU lobbying firms known for undermining climate policies.

Brought together by Share Action, the institutional investors have written to BHP Billiton, BP, EDF, Glencore, Johnson Matthey, Proctor and Gamble, Rio Tinto, Statoil and Total.

They ask them to end their membership of BusinessEurope, The European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), FuelsEurope, Eurometaux (the European Association of Metals), and the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers.

The letters come in response to evidence from the Policy Studies Institute (PSI) at the University of Westminster, showing the obstructive lobbying undertaken by the EU trade associations in question.

The move are at odds with the more progressive statements on the need for action on climate change the companies have publicly made.

Arne Lööw, Head of Corporate Governance at AP4 (Fourth Swedish National Pension Fund), who was a signatory to the letters said:

We believe it is important that investors put pressure on companies who are financing associations seeking to undermine climate legislation, and would encourage companies to withdraw from associations who have lobbied in ways which seem inconsistent with the companies´ own statements on climate action.

Some companies have already changed their affiliations to better match their climate change stance.

Unilever left BusinessEurope last year, while BP and Shell cut ties with the Washington-based American Legislative Exchange Council lapse.

Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network Europe said:

It has been clear for a while now that Business Europe does not represent the interests of the business community. Its efforts to water down climate policies disregard the desire of many in the business community to tackle the climate challenge. They also result in many European companies missing out on investment opportunities in renewable energy and losing benefits to their competitors in other parts of the world. It is good to see that leading investors condemn the short-sightedness of such obstructive lobby groups.

As global momentum for swift climate action grows, pressure is mounting on big businesses to get on board and are already making strides in the right direction.

With the divestment movement going from strength to strength, the message from investors is clear: they want their money used to help build a greener future.

The question is whether companies will have the clear-sightedness to read the writing on the wall and change their business models to reap the benefits of going green.

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