THE prevailing view is that most firms lobby against climate regulations—such as those aiming to curb carbon emissions—because greater regulation threatens industry. Consider the United States Chamber of Commerce, which spent more than $90 million lobbying against climate change legislation in 2014—more than any organization, based on our analysis. That same year, one of the highest-polluting utilities, Southern Co., spent an estimated $9 million on climate-change lobbying.
My research co-authors, Jinghui Lim and Nick Nairn-Birch, and I examined Lobbying Disclosure Act data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics. We wanted to determine whether it’s true that only heavy greenhouse-gas (GHG) emitters (“brown” firms) lobby, or whether green firms (lower GHG emitters) are also active.
Our results, published in the Academy of Management Discoveries, show that the usual suspects were most active in climate lobbying: Companies in the automobiles and parts sector spent an average of approximately $1.8 million lobbying against climate change-related regulations per year, followed by utilities ($1.1 million), oil and gas ($0.8 million), and basic resources ($0.8 million).