Pension funds should be more proactive in questioning corporate lobbying activities, according to ShareAction.
The UK charity said it was important for investors to question firms about their public positions on matters such as climate change, and ensure these were not being “undercut” by membership in industry groups that might espouse different views.
Chief executive Catherine Howarth criticised some listed firms’ support for “secretive” trade associations she argued undermined climate security.
“This Jekyll and Hyde behaviour on climate change has to stop,” Howarth said, arguing that long-term investors would see immense costs as the result of climate change.
The report, by the Policy Studies Institute of the University of Westminster, examined the public disclosures and policy submissions made by eight European trade associations, including BusinessEurope, FuelsEurope and the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers.
“There is some evidence of misalignment between companies and their trade associations, with high-profile departures of member companies from controversial trade associations,” the report said.
It cited the departure of Unilever from BusinessEurope, while ShareAction noted BP’s recent departure from the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec).
Alec has previously been critical of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s attempts to reduce carbon emissions, calling the regulations proposed a “train wreck”.
Ben Fagan-Watson, the report’s lead author, urged companies that were committing to climate action as part of the Paris climate conference (COP21) later this year to guarantee their trade associations were “singing from the same hymn sheet”.
“In the run-up to COP21 in Paris, this leadership should not be undermined by trade associations lobbying to protect narrow, short-term industrial interests at the expense of the EU economy and the global climate in the long term,” he added.