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Corporations are Lobbying to Undermine Climate Policy

Updated: Jan 21, 2022

Jonny Rogers looks at a new report exposing some of the largest entertainment companies for backing a ‘lobbying blitz’ to prevent Biden’s proposed $3.5 trillion ‘reconciliation’ bill.

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Corporations might be quick to declare their ambitions to adopt green initiatives, but their intentions are often far less clear. At the beginning of October, a new report exposed how the likes of Amazon, Disney, Apple and Microsoft – who own some of the world’s most popular entertainment services – are actively undermining the progress they publicly endorse by funding groups which lobby against climate policy.


The analysis was compiled by Accountable.US, a nonpartisan research organisation which aims to expose corruption and hold government officials accountable, and their findings were published through The Guardian. Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, said of the shocking revelations:


“Major corporations love to tell us how committed they are to addressing the climate crisis and building a sustainable future, but behind closed doors, they are funding the very industry trade groups that are fighting tooth and nail to stop the biggest climate change bill ever.”


Biden’s Reconciliation Bill


President Joe Biden’s proposed $3.5 trillion ‘reconciliation’ bill contains a variety of initiatives to combat climate change and improve the wellbeing of citizens. This includes a ‘tree equity’ plan to plant saplings in neighbourhoods throughout the nation, funding electric vehicles for the U.S. Postal Service and the federal government, and increasing penalties for methane leaks from oil and gas operations. Unlike a standard bill, a reconciliation bill can bypass the usual debate and amendment from the opposition, providing that every Senate Democrat votes in agreement, which currently hangs in the balance.

As the country’s “biggest climate change bill ever,” some political advisors have argued that this is America’s best shot at achieving 100% renewable energy by 2035, and an invaluable step towards achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. As the second largest contributor to rising global CO2 emissions, climate change mitigation can only go so far without the cooperation of the United States and improved legislation to hold the largest polluters accountable.



Lobbying Blitz


However, it has been revealed that a “torrent of political groups” are preparing to deliver a ‘lobbying blitz’ to stop Congress from enacting Biden’s plan, which includes a ‘seven-figure’ digital advertising campaign targeting Democratic lawmakers. A statement from the White House declared that the plan will “create jobs, cut taxes, and lower costs for working families”, which will be funded “by making the tax code fairer and making the wealthiest and large corporations pay their fair share”.


Included among the organisations behind this ‘lobbying blitz’ are ExxonMobil, Pfizer and the Walt Disney Company, who are undoubtedly displeased with the proposed restrictions and increased taxation for large corporations. The Washington Post reports that there have already been aggressive adverts on changes to the pricing of prescription drugs. If this blitz successfully undermines Biden’s plan, it could also have serious ramifications for the reputation of both Biden and the US, and hence their potential to influence other nations at the upcoming COP26 conference.


The Hypocrisy of the Entertainment Industry


While the issue extends far beyond the entertainment industry, Amazon, Disney, Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet Inc. (the parent company of Google, and hence YouTube) and AT&T (who acquired Time Warner in 2016) have all contributed to these efforts to undermine Biden’s plan, despite numerous public statements declaring their green intentions.


Disney, for example, proudly boast that they have saved 300 million gallons of water over 6 years, installed 292 acres of solar panels at Walt Disney World and planted over 9 million trees, ensuring their ecologically-concerned followers that they are “committed to protecting the planet and delivering a positive environmental legacy for future generations”. Similarly, Apple announced that it was committed to 100 percent carbon neutrality in its supply chain and products by 2030, with Microsoft aiming to go ‘carbon negative’ in the same time-frame.


“Hiding behind these shady groups doesn’t just put our environment at risk – it puts these companies’ household names and reputations in serious jeopardy.” – Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US

In many ways, this shouldn’t be too surprising: over the years, large corporations have consistently lobbied against sustainable initiatives, funded false programs to undermine climate science and appealed against court rulings that impose restrictions on their operations. And yet, with an unrivalled influence on global media, it is deeply unsettling that companies responsible for shaping our culture are also responsible for suppressing efforts to save our world.


 

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