Determining sustainable economic activities: taxonomy regulation 2020/852. An analysis of financial and fossil fuel business association lobbying in the European Union
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This research explores the relationship between Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Corporate Political Activity (CPA) in the context of climate policy development. It does so by investigating to what extent the framework of deliberative lobbying, as initiated by Irina Lock and Peter Seele, can be applied to the case of how the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP), FuelsEurope, and BusinessEurope lobbied to influence EU taxonomy regulation 2020/852, which was adopted on 18 June 2020. In this context, it asks the following question: to what extent can deliberative lobbying account for how fossil fuel and financial business associations in the European Union between 2011 and 2020 influenced taxonomy regulation 2020/852? The research answers this question by making use of several relevant theoretical concepts, that together form the framework of analysis. In particular, David Lowery’s theory on why organizations lobby, as well as the theory of access goods by Pieter Bouwen, prove to be useful. The analysis, furthermore, is executed by making use of Andreas Dür’s method of degree of preference attainment, which determines the influence of interest groups by tracking a political process in which positions of interest groups shift and are shaped over time. While determining influence is perceived to be a difficult endeavour, it is also compelling, as a great variety of lobbying sources are consulted in the research process. The main finding of this research, then, is that for the period between 2011 and 2020, deliberative lobbying formed a convincing framework for how fossil fuel and financial business associations were politically active in lobbying. The associations, through their lobbying, were able to put the economic activities of, and the sectors in general, in a favourable environmental CSR framework. However, the analysis has also raised the question of how long the fossil fuel and financial sectors will be able to convincingly construct a CSR-CPA relationship in a sustainability and climate policy context, as the analysis sees the development of a political context that increasingly demanded concretization and institutionalization of environmental CSR ambitions.