How Lobbying Undercuts Climate Action

How Lobbying Undercuts Climate Action

A new study quantifies the effects of political lobbying on the likelihood of climate policy enactment.

Disturbingly few domestic climate change policies have been enacted around the world so far, report researchers. That’s despite all the evidence that the benefits of reducing greenhouse gases outweigh the costs of regulation.

“There is a striking disconnect between what is needed to avoid dangerous climate change and what has actually been done to date,” says Kyle Meng, a professor in the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management and in the economics department. One common explanation for that disconnect, he adds, is that jurisdictions are reluctant to adopt climate policy when they can simply benefit from the reductions implemented by other jurisdictions.

However, say Meng and coauthor Ashwin Rode, a former UC Santa Barbara PhD student now at the University of Chicago, the political process that leads to climate change regulation can be a barrier to its own legislation.

“There is an increasing concern that this lack of climate action may be due to political influences,” says Meng, who is also a director at the Bren-based Environmental Market Solutions Lab (emLab). Lobbying between special interest groups and the legislators they target can decrease the chances of putting such policies into effect.

The Waxman-Markey Bill

To illustrate this, the researchers examined the role of political lobbying in the private sector around the 2009-2010 Waxman-Markey (WM) Bill. Also known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act, the energy bill was the most prominent—and promising—US climate bill to date. And its failure nearly a decade ago continues to shape climate policies today, including the current uncertainty surrounding future global climate negotiations.

“Basically, without a binding US climate policy, there is very little pressure for countries around the world to step up and adopt their own serious climate mitigation plans,” Meng explains.

At the time the bill was proposed, according to the researchers, lobbying around WM was called “the sum of all lobbies.” In total, companies spent more than $700 million lobbying the bill; about 14 percent of that was spent between 2009 and 2010. Taking into account data from comprehensive US lobbying records and combining them with an empirical method for forecasting the policy’s effect on the value of publicly listed firms, the researchers were able to estimate how the stock values of these firms would change had WM been implemented.

Their approach, reported in Nature Climate Change, also allowed them to determine which firms were expected to gain or lose value from the policy. Knowing who the winners and losers were would allow the researchers to determine if they were differentially effective in influencing the policy’s chances. According to Meng and Rode’s statistical analyses, lobbying by firms expecting losses was more effective than lobbying by firms expecting gains.

All told, the total lobbying by these companies reduced the bill’s chances by 13 percentage points, from 55 percent to 42 percent, representing $60 billion (2018 dollars) in expected climate damages due to the lowered chance of enacting US climate policy.

Lobbying and climate policy

This is the first study to quantify the effects of lobbying in altering the likelihood of enacting climate policy. Generally, the lack of data has made it difficult to examine who is spending how much to influence the process, and what data there are often do not reveal who would win or lose, or by how much.

“Our findings also provide a glimmer of hope by paving a path toward more politically robust climate policies,” Meng says.

The authors show that the very political forces that lowered WM’s chances could have been leveraged to instead reduce political opposition. For instance, WM was a cap-and-trade bill that issued a “capped” number of emission permits that regulated companies could trade in order to comply with the policy. Some of these permits are typically allocated freely to regulated companies. If such free permits are better targeted toward oppositional firms, they may in turn reduce political opposition against the policy.

“Subtle design changes to market-based climate policies can alleviate political opposition and increase chances of adoption,” Meng says.

Source: UC Santa Barbara

Related Books

Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future

by Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann
1786634295How climate change will affect our political theory—for better and worse. Despite the science and the summits, leading capitalist states have not achieved anything close to an adequate level of carbon mitigation. There is now simply no way to prevent the planet breaching the threshold of two degrees Celsius set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. What are the likely political and economic outcomes of this? Where is the overheating world heading? Available On Amazon

Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis

by Jared Diamond
0316409138Adding a psychological dimension to the in-depth history, geography, biology, and anthropology that mark all of Diamond's books, Upheaval reveals factors influencing how both whole nations and individual people can respond to big challenges. The result is a book epic in scope, but also his most personal book yet. Available On Amazon

Global Commons, Domestic Decisions: The Comparative Politics of Climate Change

by Kathryn Harrison et al
0262514311Comparative case studies and analyses of the influence of domestic politics on countries' climate change policies and Kyoto ratification decisions. Climate change represents a “tragedy of the commons” on a global scale, requiring the cooperation of nations that do not necessarily put the Earth's well-being above their own national interests. And yet international efforts to address global warming have met with some success; the Kyoto Protocol, in which industrialized countries committed to reducing their collective emissions, took effect in 2005 (although without the participation of the United States). Available On Amazon

enafarzh-CNzh-TWnltlfrdehiiditjakomsfaptruesswsvthtrurvi

POLITICS

What Does The Dutch Court Ruling On Climate Targets Mean For Australia?
What Does The Dutch Court Ruling On Climate Targets Mean For Australia?
by Katherine Lake
In a landmark ruling, The Hague District Court has ordered the Netherlands government to take more action to reduce its…
How Students Grow Their Community Roots And Critical Consciousness
How Students Grow Their Community Roots And Critical Consciousness
by Jennifer D. Adams and Pieranna Pieroni
Iris, a high school student in New York City, took a course aimed at preparing public school students for college.
7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It
7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It
by Jessica Corbett
We all need to work together to nurture a habitable planet for future generations and to play our part in building a…
Half-Submerged Trump Head, Says Artist, Designed to Silence Destructive Words and Deeds of US President
Half-Submerged Trump Head, Says Artist, Designed to Silence Destructive Words and Deeds of US President
by Eoin Higgins
"The idea was to gag Trump, to silence him, but he continues to speak."
'The Climate Crisis Doesn't Go on Summer Holiday, And Neither Will We,' Says Greta Thunberg as #FridaysForFuture Returns to the Streets
The Climate Crisis Doesn't Go on Summer Holiday, And Neither Will We, Says Greta Thunberg as #FridaysForFuture Returns to the Streets
by Jessica Corbett
A campaigner in Nigeria adds, "It doesn't matter the course you study nor your age, we need you to join climate…
Amazon Deforestation
by BBC News
Brazilian officials have told the BBC that there's been an aggressive increase in deforestation since the election of…
Energy Commons: From Energy Transition To Climate Justice
Energy Commons: From Energy Transition To Climate Justice
by Cécile Blanchet
In 2019, only oil lobbyists and shabby orange politicians persist in denying the influence of human activities on the…
'Straight Out of Orwell': While Slashing Climate Regulations, Trump Plans Speech Touting His 'Environmental Leadership'
'Straight Out of Orwell': While Slashing Climate Regulations, Trump Plans Speech Touting His 'Environmental Leadership'
by Jake Johnson
Trump "plans to go on the offensive against criticism of his industry-friendly rollbacks of environment protections" in…

LATEST VIDEOS

5 Ways To Be A Responsible Wildlife Tourist
5 Ways To Be A Responsible Wildlife Tourist
by Tracie McKinney
Imagine walking through a lush tropical forest. You hear a rustle overhead, and a half-eaten fruit plops onto the…
Climate Change Is Affecting Crop Yields And Reducing Global Food Supplies
Climate Change Is Affecting Crop Yields And Reducing Global Food Supplies
by Deepak Ray
Farmers are used to dealing with weather, but climate change is making it harder by altering temperature and rainfall…
The Arctic Paradox
by Tobias Thorleifsson
Explore Ellesmere Island with Tobias in this talk, as he urges us to protect this arctic environment from the hands of…
Increased Drought Amid Climate Change & Warming
by Kate Marvel, Radio Ecoshock
Columbia/NASA scientist Kate Marvel explains “hyroclimate” as rains and droughts go extreme. When it comes to your…
7 Surprising Results From The Reduction Of Arctic Sea Ice Cover
by David Barber
It is now well known that sea ice in the Arctic has changed in both extent and thickness over the past several decades.
Half-Submerged Trump Head, Says Artist, Designed to Silence Destructive Words and Deeds of US President
Half-Submerged Trump Head, Says Artist, Designed to Silence Destructive Words and Deeds of US President
by Eoin Higgins
"The idea was to gag Trump, to silence him, but he continues to speak."
'The Climate Crisis Doesn't Go on Summer Holiday, And Neither Will We,' Says Greta Thunberg as #FridaysForFuture Returns to the Streets
The Climate Crisis Doesn't Go on Summer Holiday, And Neither Will We, Says Greta Thunberg as #FridaysForFuture Returns to the Streets
by Jessica Corbett
A campaigner in Nigeria adds, "It doesn't matter the course you study nor your age, we need you to join climate…
Anchorage Hits 90 Degrees for First Time in Recorded History
Anchorage Hits 90 Degrees for First Time in Recorded History
by Jake Johnson
"This is unprecedented. I tease people that Anchorage is the coolest city in the country—and climatically that is…

LATEST ARTICLES

It's Time To Wake Up To The Devastating Impact Flying Has On The Environment
It's Time To Wake Up To The Devastating Impact Flying Has On The Environment
by Roger Tyers
While in many countries new cars, domestic appliances, and even houses now have mandatory energy efficiency…
5 Ways To Be A Responsible Wildlife Tourist
5 Ways To Be A Responsible Wildlife Tourist
by Tracie McKinney
Imagine walking through a lush tropical forest. You hear a rustle overhead, and a half-eaten fruit plops onto the…
What Does The Dutch Court Ruling On Climate Targets Mean For Australia?
What Does The Dutch Court Ruling On Climate Targets Mean For Australia?
by Katherine Lake
In a landmark ruling, The Hague District Court has ordered the Netherlands government to take more action to reduce its…
How Solar Heat Drives Rapid Melting Of Parts Of Antarctica's Largest Ice Shelf
How Solar Heat Drives Rapid Melting Of Parts Of Antarctica's Largest Ice Shelf
by Craig Stewart
The ocean that surrounds Antarctica plays a crucial role in regulating the mass balance of the continent’s ice cover.
How China’s Sponge Cities Aim To Re-use 70% Of Rainwater
How China’s Sponge Cities Aim To Re-use 70% Of Rainwater
by Asit K. Biswas and Kris Hartley
Asian cities are struggling to accommodate rapid urban migration, and development is encroaching on flood-prone areas.
Aviation Emissions Are Rising – And Industry Solutions Are Just Technological Myths
by Paul Peeters, et al
Imagine you are the government’s Minister for Transport: the economy is prospering, global oil prices are falling, and…
With Climate Change Likely To Sharpen Conflict, NZ Balances Pacifist Traditions With Defence Spending
by David Belgrave
In most countries, the question of whether to produce guns or butter is a metaphor for whether a country should put its…
Climate Change Is Putting Even Resilient And Adaptable Animals Like Baboons At Risk
by Isabelle Catherine Winder
Baboons are large, smart, ground-dwelling monkeys. They are found across sub-Saharan Africa in various habitats and eat…