While an increasing number of companies are setting targets to reduce their emissions and to protect the global commons (air, water, land, biodiversity and ocean), it is increasingly recognized that voluntary commitments alone are not enough to limit the worst impacts of climate change. We also need ambitious public policy in the U.S. to ensure the country meets its commitments under the Paris Agreement to keep the world on a 1.5-degree pathway.

Companies' influence is a critical tool for advancing climate legislation. For businesses, it means making climate policy a top advocacy priority – on par with tax or trade or any other core business issue – and driving that advocacy from the C-suite.

WRI’s Responsible Corporate Advocacy initiative equips corporate leaders with tools designed to:

  • Track U.S. climate policy and relevant actions of trade groups;
  • Contextualize policy developments within the political landscape and with climate science;
  • Provide the knowledge and resources needed to build internal alignment, leading to a culture of science-based climate policy engagement and strategy within companies.

Features of the Initiative

Our key offer is a weekly email digest focused on current U.S. climate policy and trade association activity, as well as relevant new research and articles. With the goal of turning insights into action, we also host private roundtables, tailored staff education sessions, and consultations on climate advocacy strategy.

The Pulse newsletter graphic.

Our work is designed for a corporate audience across sectors and job functions (sustainability, government affairs, investor relations, marketing, etc).

To join the newsletter email list or take part in other offerings, we ask that you fill out a short survey regarding your company’s current climate advocacy activity and commit to updating this data every six months. Nonprofits and other stakeholders are welcome to subscribe. Please reach out to Amy Meyer to learn more and get involved.

Background on Our Work

WRI calls for companies to incorporate climate policy leadership into their sustainability strategies. This call has been echoed by our NGO peers, investors, activists, students and even by companies themselves.

Goal: Net Zero Emissions by 2050, pillars reading Advocate Align and Allocate, on top of foundation blocks reading Disclosure and Governance.

However, we were compelled to go beyond why companies should do this and what it looks like, to also tackle the how.

In June 2021, WRI launched a working paper – Seven Barriers to U.S. Business Leadership on Climate Policy and How to Break Them Down – identifying challenges companies face when incorporating sustainability issues into their government affairs agendas. Having mapped out these challenges, our next step was to develop tools to help companies overcome them.

Graphic: The Seven Barriers to U.S. Business Leadership on Climate Policy
Figure 1 | The Seven Barriers to U.S. Business Leadership on Climate Policy

As noted in our research, political winds shift. Sometimes there is an immediate and tangible opportunity for companies to act on climate policy. At other times, it is most impactful for companies to invest resources in improving the process for how they engage on climate policy– such as ensuring that their trade associations are not undermining their interests in favor of heavy emitters. There is always a way for companies to keep pushing for the U.S. to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement– and this initiative is designed to lead the way.

Corporate climate leadership requires climate policy leadership.

How We Define Responsible Corporate Advocacy

The term responsible is used in reference to the management concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The United Nations defines CSR as a “concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders. CSR is generally understood as being the way through which a company achieves a balance of economic, environmental and social imperatives (“Triple-Bottom-Line- Approach”), while at the same time addressing the expectations of shareholders and stakeholders."

Therefore, Responsible Corporate Advocacy is political engagement that addresses the needs of both shareholders AND stakeholders, balancing the economic, environmental, and social imperatives that a company is subject to.