Business groups are blocking action that could help tackle the biodiversity crisis, a report says Lobbying | Catch My Job


Industry groups representing some of the world’s biggest companies “oppose almost all major biodiversity-relevant policies” and lobby to block them, a new report says.

Researchers have found that 89 percent of engagements by leading industry associations in Europe and the US are designed to delay, dilute and block progress on tackling the biodiversity crisis, which scientists say is as serious as the climate emergency. Only 5% of support was positive, with the remaining 6% mixed or neutral, according to climate think tank InfluenceMap.

The researchers focused on associations representing five key sectors – agriculture, fisheries, forestry and paper, oil and gas and mining – that have the greatest impact on biodiversity loss.

The study analyzed 750 pieces of evidence, such as press releases, blog posts, reports, speeches and social media accounts, produced by 12 industry associations, including the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Petroleum Institute, BusinessEurope and the European Farmers Interest Group. , Copa-Cogeca.

Among the members of these associations are JP Morgan Chase, Amazon, Apple, Toyota, Microsoft, Samsung and ExxonMobil. The researchers did not examine whether these political views were aligned with those of individual companies, many of which have made public commitments to protecting biodiversity.

Questions and answers

What is biodiversity and why is it important?


Biodiversity – short for biological diversity – is the variety of life on Earth, from the smallest bacteria to the largest mammals. The air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat all rely on it – without plants there would be no oxygen, and without pollinating bees there would be no fruit or nuts.

Scientists are still trying to understand how the web of life fits together and, despite advances in technology, we can still only guess at the true number of species on our planet. But Earth is experiencing the greatest loss of life since the dinosaurs, and humans are to blame. The way we mine, pollute, hunt, farm, build and travel puts at least a million species at risk of extinction, experts say. Some scientists argue that the sixth mass extinction in geological history has already begun, with billions of individual populations lost.

The five biggest threats to biodiversity are: changes in land and sea use; direct exploitation of natural resources; climate crisis; pollution and invasive species.

The extermination of animals, insects, plants and all living things has enormous consequences. Species must work together in harmony to thrive and provide the basic services humans need to survive. Ecosystem services are valued at trillions of dollars. Around half of global GDP – equal to $42 trillion (£37 trillion) – depends on the healthy functioning of the natural world, according to the UN.

The world has so far failed to meet any UN targets related to halting nature loss, but new targets will be set at the Cop15 biodiversity summit in Montreal in December 2022.

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The US Chamber of Commerce has lobbied against efforts to regulate PFAS, the widespread but mostly toxic “forever chemicals” often used in insecticides in the US. Copa-Cogeca, which represents farming groups, has opposed EU biodiversity pesticide reduction targets and farm-to-fork strategies. He also opposed an EU ban on certain neonicotinoid pesticides. In 2021, the president of BusinessEurope published an open letter that appeared to oppose the guidelines of the single-use plastics directive.

Several groups have said that the war in Ukraine is the reason for withdrawing biodiversity policies and regulations, but in many cases these same groups lobbied from similar positions before the war.

The American Petroleum Institute (API), for example, has lobbied to loosen restrictions on oil and gas production on federal land since 2017. In 2022, a letter to US President Joe Biden reinforced this position, citing energy security concerns as a result of the Ukrainian invasion.

A bumblebee hovering over yellow flowers
A bumblebee hovers over a drake in Devon. Copa-Cogeca opposed the EU ban on certain neonicotinoid pesticides. Photo: Odd Andersen/AP

There has also been successful lobbying to roll back environmental policies under the Trump administration and to weaken the US Endangered Species Act and the EU’s Birds and Habitats Directive. The report found that API was most active in lobbying against legal protection for certain species such as bees, seals and polar bears.

“Although industry associations, particularly in the US, seem reluctant to discuss the biodiversity crisis, they are clearly engaged in a wide range of policies with significant impact on biodiversity loss,” the researchers wrote in the report.

InfluenceMap has previously analyzed companies’ views on the climate crisis. This is his first analysis that specifically focuses on biodiversity loss. The report was released in preparation for the Cop15 biodiversity conference in Montreal in December, where UN targets for the next decade will be set. The world has failed to meet any such targets in previous years.

“Scientists warn that biodiversity loss is occurring globally at an unprecedented rate, but powerful industry associations largely reject policies designed to slow or reverse this trend,” said Rebecca Vaughan, InfluenceMap’s program manager, who wrote the report.

“This research sheds new light on an area of ​​lobbying that has largely managed to fly under the radar and should act as a wake-up call to policymakers ahead of the upcoming UN biodiversity conference.”

“While it may not be surprising that some of these industry associations are abandoning environmental protections, the sheer scale and scope of lobbying for policies relevant to biodiversity has been surprising.

“This report also questions whether these industry associations fairly represent the political views of their corporate members, many of whom have made public commitments to protecting biodiversity.”

The study focused on the EU and the US because data were more available in these regions. An InfluenceMap report published earlier this year found that leading oil and gas companies are spending tens of millions on environmental publishing, but only 12% of their capital expenditure has gone to low-carbon development.

A spokesperson for Copa-Cogec said: “We have never been opposed to the stated goal of increased sustainability and together with our members we are working very hard on the best ways to reconcile increased sustainability and food production. We believe this is key.”

A spokesman said Copa-Cogeca recognized the associated risk of neonicotinoids, but believed they were important to sustaining sugar beet and oilseed production in Europe. “We volunteered to the European Commission for risk reduction measures to reduce exposure to pollinators, but this was not taken into account.

Chuck Chaitovitz, vice president of environmental affairs and sustainability at the US Chamber of Commerce, said, “The business community supports an accelerated cleanup of this broad group of chemicals, based on the best science and risk. However, not all PFAS are the same. Many have socially valuable applications, from cell phones, medical devices, solar panels to public safety and national security uses. The Chamber has been engaged in discussions on how best to deal with PFAS while ensuring there are no unintended consequences and costs.”

Megan Bloomgren, API’s senior vice president of communications, said, “API’s member companies continue to invest in innovation, research and best practices to further reduce GHGs [greenhouse gas] show and face the climate challenge.”

BusinessEurope did not respond to The Guardian’s request for comment.

Find more Age of Extinction reports and follow biodiversity reporters here Phoebe Weston and Patrick Greenfield on Twitter for all the latest news and features


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