Sweden’s AP7 has come out with conclusions from three years’ work on corporate climate lobbying, saying that much can be done to counter the ubiquitous problem of industry groups petitioning against curbs on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

In the report, the SEK600bn (€59bn) premium pension default fund said: “One clear conclusion we can draw from our work on the Corporate Climate Lobbying theme is that lobbying that counteracts the Paris Agreement is a globally widespread problem.”

Negative climate lobbying by interest organisations that influenced political decisions was prevalent, it said in the report covering the 2017-2019 work, despite companies officially declaring their support for the Paris Agreement.

However, AP7 said that after the three years it had spent working on climate lobbying together with other active owners, particularly the Church of England and BNP Paribas, “it has also become clear that much can been achieved on driving the issue forward and encouraging companies to take greater responsibility”.

The pension fund said: “The importance of climate lobbying has become firmly established as a new norm on the sustainability agenda, but there is still much to do before negative climate lobbying is brought to an end.”

More companies had to acknowledge their responsibility for making sure their interest organisations conducted activities in line with the Paris Agreement, it said.

Regarding lobbying to reduce emissions, AP7 said this work had now entered a new phase, with the focus having shifted to developing the norm for responsible climate lobbying, and cited its link up with BNP Paribas, the Church of England and Chronos Sustainability to draw up a framework to define “the pillars of responsible climate lobbying”.

In the report, AP7 singled out US oil giant Exxon for criticism, a stock the Swedish pension fund blacklisted in 2017 when the fund introduced the Paris Agreement as one of the international norms it assessed its holdings against.

“On its website, Exxon declares that the company supports a transition to energy systems with low carbon dioxide emissions.

“Despite this, the company has not distanced itself from organisations that deny climate change, and has not withdrawn from business organisations that oppose climate regulations,” AP7 wrote in the report.

But the Stockholm-based pension fund also highlighted major companies which were exerting influence over climate policy and conducting positive lobbying on the climate issue.

Unilever had become a strong advocate of the Paris Agreement, the pension fund said, with the group’s chief executive officer sending an open letter in the summer of 2019 to all its trade and interest organisations expressing his concern about climate change.

Since 2017, Australian mining company BHP had published “an exemplary report” on its positions and participation in interest organisations, AP7 said.

And back in 2009, Apple left the US Chamber of Commerce because of a difference in position over GHG emissions, which the technology company acknowledged should be regulated, the Swedish pension fund said.

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