Features, Fossil Politics

Australian trade groups amongst the world’s biggest fossil fuel pushers

By Eve Sinton • Fossil Fool Bulletin, 4 October 2019

New InfluenceMap research has produced a list of the world’s most impactful climate policy opponents, with four Australian organisations listed in the top 30.

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) was ranked at number eight, while the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) was 18th, the Business Council of Australia (BCA) 20th and Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) 30th.

The research found US organisations dominate the list, with seven out of the 10 most negative and influential business associations globally based in Washington DC.

The finding reflects the extent to which US lobbyists have stoked, harnessed, and guided the Trump Administration’s deregulatory agenda to undermine climate policy progress since 2016.

The NY School of Law determined the subsequent rollbacks in policy will add 200 Mn tons of CO2 equivalent emissions a year by 2025, placing the US on a pathway consistent with 4°C+ warming globally, according to thinktank Carbon Action Tracker.

The two most powerful and oppositional trade groups are the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers which, following successful campaigns to get the US to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, have pursued wide-ranging strategies to undermine climate leadership and install a deeply pro-fossil fuel legal framework since 2016.

Powerful sector-specific groups such as the American Petroleum Institute, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers are close behind in terms of opposition to climate policy progress.

Outside the US, the Japanese Business Federation (Keidanren), ranks highly due to its key role in pushing for a coal-focused energy policy for Japan, the world’s third largest economy. The Minerals Council of Australia and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers are also noted as highly climate-oppositional groups that have had a significant impact in undermining climate action in key fossil fuel exporting countries.

InfluenceMap says many oppositional lobby groups have found it expedient to be nominally positive on climate in their PR and top-line statements. InfluenceMap’s analysis finds such messaging to be deflection techniques, to distract the media and politicians from their recently successful and ongoing lobbying to hold meaningful climate regulations at bay.

Australian fossil lobby groups listed

The Minerals Council of Australia The MCA remains highly engaged and oppositional to climate change policy. The MCA has consistently emphasized concerns around competitiveness and energy poverty.

The MCA has lobbied to preserve the dominance of coal in the energy mix, organizing the marketing campaigns, “Coal. It’s an amazing thing” in 2015 and ‘Making the Future Possible’ in 2017-18, espousing the importance of coal to Australia’s economy.

In 2017-2018, the group has also continued to strongly promote Australian thermal coal exports and the role of coal in Asia.

Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association
APPEA appears to recognize IPCC science, but has emphasised the need to balance climate action with competitiveness and growing energy demand. Shortly before COP24 in December 2018, APPEA stressed the need for policies which reduce emissions at “least cost.” APPEA has promoted the role of gas Australia’s energy mix, including as an alternative to coal.

The Business Council of Australia
The BCA is negatively lobbying Australian climate change policy.

 Despite communicating support for the Paris Agreement, BCA has emphasized the economic costs of greenhouse gas emission reductions and in 2019 opposed the Labor Party’s plan to increase Australian GHG emissions targets to 45% by 2030.

BCA opposed the Australian carbon tax, supporting its repeal in 2014, which it was reportedly instrumental in achieving.

The BCA in 2016-17 has consistently opposed Australian state-level and federal level renewable energy targets and subsidies.

The Australian Industry Group
Ai Group is actively and negatively lobbying climate change policy in Australia.

Despite communicating support for the ratification of the Paris Agreement in 2016, and in 2015 helping to create the Climate Roundtable, which supports a 2°C global warming limit, Ai Group has consistently advocated against dramatic GHG emission reductions in Australia.

In 2016 the Australian Industry Group opposed binding greenhouse gas targets for Victoria state.

Ai Group were prominent supporters for Australia’s carbon tax repeal, with CEO messaging in 2016 suggesting continued opposition to a tax.

The Australian Industry Group has consistently endorsed policies supporting unconventional gas production, calling for an end to all state moratoria on seam gas.

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