U.S. companies are saying one thing on climate policy and funding quite another, according to a new Reuters investigation.
The news agency reviewed donations made during the 2016 election cycle by the political action committees (PACs) of 30 of the biggest publicly traded U.S. companies that signed President Barack Obama's "American Business Act on Climate Change Pledge" in 2015—and in doing so, signaled an "ongoing commitment to climate action."
But Reuters found that 25 of those 30 companies—including DuPont, PepsiCo, AT&T, and Google—"are funding the campaigns of lawmakers featured on a 'climate deniers' list that was put together by Organizing For Action, a non-profit created by former Obama campaign aides to advocate his agenda."
The list includes more than 130 members of Congress, nearly all Republicans, and is a who's who of the biggest opponents of Obama's plan to combat climate change. Some of those on the list dispute the label "denier" and describe themselves as climate change "skeptics."
The list includes Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, an energy advisor to presidential candidate Donald Trump who once argued the Earth was cooling not warming, and Republican U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who last year held up a snowball on the Senate floor as evidence global warming does not exist.
The review found PepsiCo and DuPont's political action committees gave about half or more of the money from their top donations in support of senators and congressmen on the list. That amounted to $56,500 from the Pepsi PAC's 29 donations of $2,500 and above, and $40,000 from the DuPont PAC's 19 donations of $2,000 and above.
This "disconnect between how these companies present themselves to the public on environmental issues, and how they manage their political contributions to support business-friendly policy" would likely not go over well with investors, one asset manager told Reuters.
"No company should want to be perceived as espousing progressive climate policies on the one hand," said Lauren Compere, managing director at sustainable investment manager Boston Common Asset Management, "while funding climate deniers on the other."
Research from the Center for American Progress Action Fund earlier this year found that more than six in 10 Americans are represented by a climate denier in Congress—thanks in part, it seems, to the country's biggest corporations.