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10 Largest Companies 'Obstructing' Climate Policy

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10 Largest Companies 'Obstructing' Climate Policy

New research reveals that nearly half (45 percent) of the world's 100 largest companies are "obstructing climate change legislation." And those that aren't actively obstructing climate policy are members of trade associations that do. A full 95 percent of these companies are members of trade associations "demonstrating the same obstructionist behavior."

With help from the Union of Concerned Scientists, UK-based nonprofit InfluenceMap has released a report identifying the best and worst of the world's major companies when it comes to climate policy.

"More and more, we’re seeing companies rely on their trade groups to do their dirty work of lobbying against comprehensive climate policies," said Gretchen Goldman, lead analyst at Union of concerned Scientists. "Companies get the delay in policy they want, while preventing nations from acting to fight climate change. It is unacceptable that companies can obstruct climate action in this way without any accountability."

The researchers found that corporate influence over climate policies extended "beyond the activities normally associated with lobbying, including intervention in the public discourse on climate change science and policy via advertising, PR, social media, and access to decision makers, as well as the use of influencers, such as trade associations and advocacy groups."

The companies were graded on an A to F scale. None of the companies received an A. The top three companies, which all received a B, were Google, Unilever and Cisco Systems. GlaxoSmithKline, Deutsche Telekom, National Grid, Vodafone Group, Nestle, Apple and Anheuser Busch InBev rounded out the top 10. But even Apple, which has been praised in recent months for its sustainability efforts received a paltry C+. It should also be noted that of those top 13 companies, only three are headquartered in the U.S.: Google, Apple and Cisco Systems. The rest are headquartered in Europe.

“There is a lack of detailed analysis available in this area and sadly great companies sometimes do bad things by lobbying against government action to avoid dangerous climate change," said Paul Dickinson, executive chairman of CDP.

As mentioned early, nearly all of the companies (95 percent) are members of trade associations that are fighting against climate action. Those associations include BusinessEurope (recently under attack in the UK for their obstructionist stance towards climate legislation) and the secretive U.S. industry group, NEDA/CAP, "who have been suing the U.S. EPA to prevent them using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions," according to InfluenceMap.

Other trade associations include the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), European Automobile Manufacturers Association, American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Council of Australia and Japan 2 Business Federation.

InfluenceMap's research found that "despite their public communications, few corporations have actually supported the progressive climate policies being proposed by governments globally. There also remains a lack of transparency around their relationships with trade associations, with very few companies willing to publicly challenge them despite clear misalignment between their climate positions and the actions of the associations."

The companies receiving the lowest grades come as no surprise. Among them are major fossil fuel companies such as Chevron, BP, Duke Energy and Phillips 66. And at the bottom of the list is climate denying extraordinaire Koch Industries. Interestingly, two media companies even make the list: 21st Century Fox and Comcast.

Here are the 10 worst companies on InfluenceMap's list:

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A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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