For the first time ever, companies have a guide to manage and report on their direct and indirect influences on climate policy. The UN Global Compact, in cooperation with seven leading international organizations, released guidelines to help companies engage in climate policy in a transparent and accountable way that is consistent with their sustainability commitments.
The Guide to Responsible Corporate Engagement in Climate Policy sets baseline expectations for companies to provide proactive, constructive input for Governments to create effective climate policies. It helps companies to connect the dots between sustainability commitments, such as emissions reductions across their value chains and efficiency improvements, with their corporate policy positions.
There is a mixed record on public policy engagement. In a recent survey of UN Global Compact companies, only 30 percent have aligned their traditional government affairs activities with their corporate responsibility commitments, such as taking action on climate change.
The report comes as the role of business in policymaking receives increased attention and negotiators meet at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP19) in Warsaw, Poland, in order to guide progressive businesses to lobby in favor of a global, legal climate agreement by 2015. Businesses and investors are also becoming more aware of the risks of climate change, and want clear and consistent climate policies in place to create a productive operating environment.
To address calls for alignment by business, investors and other stakeholders, the guide establishes the core elements of responsible corporate engagement and translates that into three practical actions for companies to provide a constructive and positive voice on climate policy:
- Identify the company’s opportunity and legitimacy by creating an inventory of its influences on climate policy;
- Align its positions and influences to ensure consistency and accountability; and
- Report on climate change policy influences, intentions and outcomes using a three-tiered framework for transparency.
“Engagement by the private sector that is collaborative, serious and solutions-oriented is vital, and can help ensure widespread support for sustainability, climate action and broader UN goals. With leading technological and social innovations already in place, there is enormous potential to produce results if greater scale is achieved,” said UN Global Compact Executive Director Georg Kell. “The time is ripe for enlightened business leaders to scale up corporate sustainability by engaging responsibly on climate policy, ultimately helping to drive energy efficiency, renewables and technology in a low-carbon economy.”
The business case for companies to engage responsibly in climate policy has strengthened as companies are increasingly asked to track and report their policy positions. Responsible corporate engagement can help a company to execute on its corporate strategy; create trusted relationships with Government and generate regulatory certainty; enhance shareholder value; build and sustain public and stakeholder trust; and promote policies that protect against impacts from climate change.
“When it comes to climate policy, many leading businesses are struggling to match their words and their actions. This report finds that seven of 10 businesses have not fully aligned their sustainability goals with government affairs practices,” said Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute. “Those businesses that are serious about addressing climate change will follow the actions in this guide.”
The Guide to Responsible Corporate Engagement in Climate Policy is the result of research and interviews with more than 75 business and policy leaders from more than 60 organizations across 20 countries. It will be highlighted at a special session of the inaugural Caring for Climate Business Forum during COP19, on 19 November in Warsaw.