Climate Change Action and Corporate Lobbying

Now that climate change is a big issue, how easy is it for a company to swing around and improve its compliance with climate action targets? It probably depends on how energy intensive the company is.

Airlines are big fuel burners, obviously.

Commercial airliners burn Jet-A, which is a mix of refined kerosene and burns at temperatures at or above 49 °C (120 °F). The benefit of using a kerosene-based fuel is that it has a much higher flash point than gasoline-based fuel, meaning that it requires significantly higher temperature to ignite and is therefore safer.

Kerosene, also known as paraffin, is a combustible hydrocarbon liquid derived from petroleum. And therein lies the problem and the reason why airlines are in trouble. There is no easy answer to a substitute for jet fuel from fossil fuels. Biofuels are a possibility, but then the real cost of biofuels has to be costed in. What benefit to mankind if untold acres is given over to producing feed for airliners?

A section in the daily email from QZ mentioned that shareholders at Delta Airlines are being asked to vote on a proposal that Delta reports on its lobbying regarding climate change. The board at Delta recommends voting against the proposal, and the proposal itself mentions that it was put to the meeting last year and achieved 46% of the vote total.

I cannot imagine why the Delta board would be against the proposal if their policy is as they set out in the reasons why the oppose the proposal.

So why, you may ask, did QZ even mention the vote? It’s because according to Influence Map, Delta gets an E in the climate performance rankings.

Influence Map describes itself as:

the world’s leading database of corporate and trade association lobbying of climate policy around the globe. Analysis and metrics on how the world’s largest corporations’ climate policy engagements align with the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Abut Delta, Influence Map says:

Delta Air Lines appears to have limited, negative engagement with US climate policy. Delta Air Lines has opposed attempts to repeal a tax on jet fuel in the US state of Georgia and appears to support a long-term role for fossil fuels in global aviation. Delta also remains a member of multiple industry associations that actively and negatively lobby against ambitious climate policy including Airlines for America, which has lobbied against national climate regulation for aviation in the US.

To put Delta’s ‘E’ in context, Influence Map covers 100 top companies and gives, for example, Unilever a ‘B+’ and the energy supplier EDF a ‘B’.