Changing policy & lobbying practices


Companies and industry trade groups often work with the government to shape policy via interest groups, political contributions, lobbying, and other mechanisms. While businesses have been positive examples on operations and product, they have traditionally shied away from speaking out in pushing the government to act on the scientifically proven global warming.


We envision a clear opportunity for businesses to step up and make a difference in the policy conversation, as about seven in ten Americans (72%) think global warming is happening, and two-third of Americans think the government should do more on climate. Fossil fuel companies have known about climate change, and yet they have spent decades polluting the political information system with misinformation around climate change, employing the same tactics once used by the tobacco industry. We need positive climate actors to step up and buoy their efforts.

From a macro perspective, The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate found that bold climate action could deliver at least $26 trillion in economic benefits and generate over 65 million new low-carbon jobs in 2030. And studies have shown that international trade policies as currently constituted subsidize fossil fuel pollution. A report published in 2020 by the International Energy Agency in coordination with the International Monetary Fund estimated that 9 million jobs would be saved or added each year from a green stimulus emerging from the COVID crisis. 


Here are examples of initiatives that spur change.

The Sustainable Food Policy Alliance: Danone North America, Nestle USA, Unilever United States, and Mars, Incorporated formed the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance to advocate for public policy in the United States in five key areas, one of which is the environment and climate change

SFPA Climate Policy Principles: SFPA strongly encourages the federal government to adopt policies that will significantly reduce GHG emissions across the economy in a manner that places the United States on a path with other nations to adequately address climate change. We support local and state actions taken across the United States and stand ready to partner with the federal government to reduce GHG emissions to a level in line with science-based global goals.

Guide for Responsible Engagement on Climate Policy: this report is designed to help companies inform and accelerate the policies most urgently needed to support a stable global economy. And it is designed to help businesses engage in national and international debates, to contribute to political progress on reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and adapt to disruptions in the global climate system.

Steps to Spur Change

Lobbying vs. non-lobbying next steps


Conduct due diligence

Conduct due diligence on existing relationships with lobbyists, PACs, politicians, and think tanks: Analyze relationships with existing groups, and ensure that they do not deny the scientific basis for global warming. Push them to change, and cut ties with them if they do not.


Work with local climate advocacy groups

Climate advocacy groups are doing much work around climate and equity. They have both policy expertise and political connections, build coalitions, and support their efforts. These groups can help you Tailor your advocacy to issues at the core of a district or state’s interests, and you are more likely to generate buy-in from elected officials.


Push government to be bolder

When businesses advocate for climate ambition and send governments clear signals of commitment, this enables governments to be bolder in their own commitments. Likewise, when the government sends the private sector clear, long-term signals about climate policy, business can act with the confidence it needs to make low-carbon investments

Think tanks that engage in climate denial

  • The Heartland Institute
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI): a conservative policy group that was instrumental in convincing the Trump administration to abandon the Paris agreement and has criticized the White House for not dismantling more environmental rules.
  • State Policy Network (SPN): which has a website that falsely states “our natural environment is getting better” and “there is no climate crisis.”
  • American Conservative Union: whose chairman, Matt Schlapp, worked for a decade for Koch Industries and shaped the company’s radical anti-environment policies in Washington. 
  • American Enterprise Institute: which has railed against climate “alarmists”; and Americans for Tax Reform, which has criticized companies who support climate action for seeking out “corporate welfare.”
  • Cato Institute: which has voiced opposition to climate legislation and questioned the severity of the crisis. Google has also made donations to them.
  • Mercatus Center: a Koch-funded think tank, and the Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action, a pressure group that said the Paris agreement was supported by “cosmopolitan elites” and part of Barack Obama’s “destructive legacy.”


Further Reading

The Ambition Loop: a paper produced by WRI with We Mean Business and the UN Global Compact, highlights instances where business and government have sent one another these clear signals, which created the enabling conditions for more confident climate action.

Get In Touch

Need help advocating for climate action at your company? We’ll guide and support you.