Action Guide

Advocate for Public Policy

Environmental Defense Fund

While voluntary actions to reduce emissions are important, only public policy can deliver reductions at the speed and scale necessary to limit the worst impacts of climate change. This requires going beyond integrating climate into company goals to advocating for, aligning with, and allocating to the advancement of climate policies at both the national and local levels.

Corporate climate leadership means embracing a science-based climate policy agenda that supports the goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – producing no more climate pollution than can be removed – by 2050, consistent with what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says is needed to limit the worst impacts of climate change.

There’s no silver bullet to get to net zero. A range of policies will be needed at both the local and national level in addition to a company’s own engagement activities. At the national level, regulation is needed to ensure reductions in GHG emissions across the economy. This should be complemented by targeted policies that accelerate innovation in low-carbon technology, address barriers to clean energy, energy efficiency in buildings, and transport – as well as policies that support farmers, forest landowners and ensure equitable outcomes for communities.

The following actions outline how you can make net zero policy a top advocacy priority for your company:

Advocate for Policies Consistent with Achieving Net Zero Emissions by 2050

As a business, you are a highly credible messenger on the economic case for climate policy. You can speak to the need for strong limits on GHG emissions not only to reduce costs and the material risks of climate change to your own operations and value chain, but also to provide regulatory certainty, spur investment, boost competitiveness, and enable sustained economic growth.

Here are some ways you can talk to both policymakers and the public about why climate is a bottom-line issue for your company, helping to create an enabling environment for climate action:

  • Take a position: Embrace the goal of net zero emissions by 2050 and commit to advancing public policies consistent with it.
  • Socialize your position internally: Get your employees, CEO, and trustees on board. Make sure your suppliers, peers, and customers understand what you are doing and why.
  • Promote your position publicly: Articulate why climate policy is a strategic imperative for your company, and how your business and climate policy goals are linked. Also, bring up climate policy whenever you meet regulators – not just when environmental groups invite inputs.
  • Mobilize your networks: Engage your employees, suppliers, peers and customers to advance climate policy just as you would for any other advocacy priority.

The messenger also matters. Making your CEO the company’s chief climate advocate and spokesperson demonstrates the seriousness of your intentions.

Align Your Trade Associations’ Climate Policy Advocacy with the Goal of Net Zero Emissions by 2050

It’s no longer tenable for companies to say the right things on climate policy while allowing their trade associations – which have far greater political clout – to lobby against those policies. Stakeholders will assume your trade association speaks for you unless you say otherwise.

Here is how you can speak out in support of climate action and publicly distance your company from statements that are inconsistent with emission reduction goals:

  • Make a plan: Decide how to resolve cases of misalignment. Set explicit criteria and timelines for success and communicate them to your trade associations’ leadership.
  • Conduct an audit: Complete a thorough assessment of your trade associations’ lobbying activities on climate, and whether or not they’re aligned with the goal of net zero emissions by 2050. Make the audit results public and commit to re-auditing associations on a regular basis.
  • Change their position: Work to end lobbying against climate policy through transparent and time-bound engagement with trade associations. 
  • If necessary, leave: Where attempts to change an association are insufficient, discontinue your membership.

Allocate Advocacy Spending to Advance Climate Policies, Not Obstruct Them

Through political giving and funding of third-party organizations, you can send a strong message about the kind of climate policy agenda you want to see enacted.

  • Contribute to organizations and initiatives to advance climate policy and stop contributing to those that oppose it.
  • Publicly disclose spending on organizations or disclose contributions to trade associations that lobby on climate policy.