The Blind Spot in Corporate Sustainability Ratings: Climate Policy Leadership

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This report examines eight widely cited sustainability rankings and finds that only one (InfluenceMap’s Climate Policy Engagement A-List) recognizes companies for lobbying or other activities in favor of public policies that protect the climate. Only two (InfuenceMap’s Climate Policy Engagement A-List and Corporate Knights Global
100) penalize or disqualify companies for lobbying or activities against public policies to protect the climate. With the exception of InfluenceMap, none of the rankings analyzed in this report give weight to public policy advocacy commensurate with its outsize impact on environmental outcomes.

This blind spot in corporate sustainability rankings is a problem. Rankings that omit climate policy advocacy give stakeholders an incomplete picture of companies’ ambition and accomplishments in sustainability. Moreover, they imply that companies can be sustainability leaders without making any effort to reduce emissions beyond their own operations or supply chains. This needs to change.

The primary challenge for ranking entities in evaluating corporate engagement in climate policy is the lack of transparency in lobbying and other political activities.
This report recommends that as a first step, ranking entities ask companies to disclose the nature and extent of their engagement in climate policy. This would begin to give the ranking entities the information they need to comprehensively evaluate sustainability performance.

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