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In the wake of shareholder resolutions at Rio Tinto in both the UK and Australia over its links with climate-lobbying trade groups, new research from UK thinktank InfluenceMap identifies the 10 major global companies who maintain extensive networks of trade associations and lobbyists whose aggregate positions on climate are most misaligned with their own. We also unpick Rio Tinto's trade association network and assess its coherence with the company's own climate change agenda.
This group of ten includes corporate names (Pfizer, Microsoft, IBM and UPS) with little business exposure to the fossil fuel value chain and whose own positive climate positions sharply contrast with those of their lobbyists including the National Association of Manufacturers, the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Legislative Exchange Council.
In September 2017, a resolution was heard at BHP’s annual general meetings challenging the company’s continued support of powerful trade groups whose positions and actions on climate contradicted its own. This resolution was widely covered in the media and led to the mining giant conducting an internal audit of its trade association links that was made public.
Following this, attention has turned to Rio Tinto, with a resolution on its links with climate-obstructive trade associations filed in February 2018, raised at the company's annual meeting this year in London (April), and also to be firmly on the agenda at its annual meeting in Melbourne (May). The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility has again lead the way in convening shareholders on the topic.
Rio Tinto's forward strategy no longer involves thermal coal and Rio's chief climate manager stated in 2017 that the world needs to move more quickly away from coal with accelerated “government policy action”. However, it maintains links with powerful trade groups with precisely the opposite viewpoint, including the Minerals Council of Australia, the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Mining Association (US).
InfluenceMap's investor-focused and detailed analysis of over 250 global companies and 100 trade associations highlights the 10 major global companies who maintain extensive networks of trade associations and lobbyists whose aggregate positions on climate are most misaligned with their own.
European oil majors BP and Shell have improved their own positions on climate policy in the last three years while their lobby groups remain staunchly oppositional. The two UK majors remain a target for investors on their trade association links on climate.