Does Corporate Australia Support Paris-Aligned Climate Policy?

This report accompanies the launch of InfluenceMap’s new interactive platform assessing Australian companies and industry associations on their climate change lobbying, accessible here.

■ InfluenceMap's new research looked at the 50 most economically significant companies in Australia in relation to climate change and their potential to influence climate policy. The research found that none are strategically supporting Australian climate policy in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. In contrast, nearly half of the companies assessed hold policy positions that are misaligned from the goals of Paris Agreement. Full details are on InfluenceMap's interactive platform.

■ This lack of corporate support for climate regulations in Australia, combined with strategic opposition by the fossil fuel sector, contributes to the continuing failure of the country to implement policy measures aligned with the Paris Agreement. This differs significantly from Europe, for example, where there has been a groundswell of lobbying support for ambitious climate policy in recent years, notably from the European utility sector.

■ The five most oppositional companies to Paris-aligned climate policy in order are Sunset Power International (traded as Delta Electricity) (F), Peabody (F), Whitehaven Coal (E-), Yancoal (E+), and Chevron (E+). All of these companies represent the fossil fuel value chain.

■ Many companies headquartered in Australia have made positive top-line statements about climate change and the need for climate action, such as support for a net zero by 2050 target. These include companies such as Macquarie Group, Westpac Banking Corporation, and Wesfarmers. This research found, however, that many of the companies with positive top-line statements are absent when it comes to engaging on the details of climate policies.

■ The four companies with the highest engagement on climate in Australia all represent coal, oil, or gas. In order, these companies are Santos, Origin Energy, Woodside, AGL Australia. All of these companies have lobbied for the continued use of fossil fuels in 2020-2021, despite having publicly supported net zero by 2050.

■ The fossil fuel sector’s monopolization of climate lobbying is clearly delaying Australian climate policy. InfluenceMap has produced additional analysis on how individual policies are/were being lobbied by corporate Australia, using 14 significant climate policies as case studies. For 10 of the 14 policies, the most frequent lobbying position from the companies and industry associations was one of opposition or trying to weaken the policy in question. 6 of these policies were then repealed, weakened or stalled from further ambition. These policies and a breakdown of the lobbying can be viewed on the accompanying platform.

Acting on the climate emergency is a race against time that requires strong action from policymakers and regulators. But it needs positive engagement from corporate leaders too.

Australia is fast becoming an outlier in the world when it comes to taking the steps needed to meet the challenges of dealing with the climate crisis. This is in part due to the significant influence of the mining and energy sectors over the country’s policy debate.

InfluenceMap’s research exposes the stark imbalance which exists between these loud anti-climate voices within corporate Australia and the relative silence of more progressive companies.

This is a wakeup call to those companies which publicly claim to support strong climate action, but are largely quiet when it comes to advocating for policy changes required to meet that challenge.

Fiona Reynolds, CEO, UN PRI

You will be required to register or login to our site to download these files.