Lobbying by Trade Associations on EU Climate Policy

Funded by: Tellus Mater


September 2014 to March 2015

PSI researchers:

Ben Fagan-Watson

Tom Watson

Bridget Elliott

Background, summary and aims

Climate change has been recognised as one of the greatest challenges of the twenty-first century. Its impacts and the way that we choose to deal with them will profoundly affect the way that business and society operates. This report focuses on European Union (EU) climate policy – the governance structures, rules and regulations that have been put in place at the EU level to attempt to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Specifically, it focuses on how and why trade associations representing industrial sectors or broader business interests have lobbied on EU climate policy, and the impact that they have had on the policymaking process. The report then goes on to discuss whether the impacts of this lobbying align with the stated policies of the companies that are members of these trade associations.

EU climate policy is important; policy set in Brussels impacts on an important trade bloc of 28 member states. The EU has also acted as an international leader on climate policy, which other national and regional governments have used as a template for developing policy – for example, in the establishment of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). Key climate policies have and are being decided at the EU level, including reforms to the EU Emissions Trading System; the long-term targets the EU is adopting on emission reductions, energy efficiency and the proportion of power generated by renewables in 2030; and in other key areas such as the extraction of shale gas and the allocation of emissions permits granted to heavy industry in the EU.

Research Methods

We drew upon a number of sources to create this report. These included responses submitted by trade associations to two key consultations on prominent EU policy debates which took place between December 2012 and July 2013. For both consultations, submitted responses are publicly available on the European Commission website:

  • The consultation on the Green Paper on a 2030 framework for climate and energy policies
  • The consultation on structural options to strengthen the EU Emissions Trading System

We undertook 10 interviews with staff at trade associations, campaigners at environmental NGOs, representatives of large investment organisations, an electric utility company and a former assistant to an MEP. We reviewed the websites of prominent trade associations and companies, and information that had been voluntarily disclosed by trade associations in the EU Transparency Register. We drew upon the CDP database of self-reported responses from companies to the CDP annual climate change information request in 2013 and 2014, and read academic articles, grey literature, and news articles.

We have particularly focused on eight trade associations in this report. They are:

2. Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI);
4. EUROFER– The European Steel Association;
5. Eurometaux – The European Association of Metals;
6. European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic);
7. FuelsEurope (formerly known as EUROPIA);
8. International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP).

These groups were chosen on the basis of their prominence, and their recent activity in the public climate change dialogue at the EU level.

The full research report was published on 30 March 2015. An edited version of the report was published on 23 April 2015, which removed an incorrect reference to AngloAmerican’s membership of the Corporate Leaders Group on p43 and p45 of the report.)


Related publications / project outputs

Lobbying by Trade Associations on EU Climate Policy