Systems Change

Public Policy Engagement

Advance regulatory certainty by advocating for public policies that align with the latest environmental science, internationally recognized standards for human and labor rights and opportunities to maximize community and worker well-being.


To level the playing field and create regulatory certainty, companies will actively engage and advocate for international, federal and local public policies that align with the latest environmental science and internationally recognized standards for human and labor rights, actively seeking opportunities to maximize community and worker well-being. In doing so, companies will: 

  • Assess the impact of sustainability risks to the company, including the ways in which its lobbying efforts serve to exacerbate or mitigate these risks
  • Systematize decision-making on sustainability issues across the company, including in all direct and indirect lobbying
  • Act to align direct and indirect lobbying with the latest science and internationally recognized standards for human and labor rights
  • Engage with and advocate for trade associations to align their policies and lobbying activities in support of sustainable business priorities and solutions
  • Seek opportunities to engage with lawmakers at the international, federal and local levels to advocate for smart environmental and social public policies that create market certainty, stimulate job growth and enable investment in technology and the workforce of the future 

Getting Started

Unlike the Critical Impact Actions, the actions within Systems Change do not have milestones leading to 2030.  Each company already has the ability to address systemic issues today. By engaging in systems-level change, companies make it easier for themselves and the entire economy to transition to a more just and sustainable economy.

This section of the Ceres Roadmap 2030 identifies a list of resources to help companies engage in systems-level change.

Blueprint for Responsible Policy Engagement on Climate Change - The Blueprint offers concrete recommendations on how companies can establish systems that address climate change as a systemic risk and integrate this understanding into their direct and indirect lobbying on climate policies.

Addressing Climate as a Systemic Risk: A call to action for U.S. financial regulators - This Ceres report outlines how and why U.S. financial regulators, who are responsible for protecting the stability and competitiveness of the U.S. economy, need to recognize and act on climate change as a systemic risk. It provides more than 50 recommendations for key financial regulators to adopt.

2020 Ceres Policy Outlook - This report offers a glimpse into the political landscape and the types of policy measures Ceres will address in the coming year, highlighting corporate engagement opportunities as we look to strengthen policies that help advance a carbon-free economy.

Change the Conversation: Redefining How Companies Engage Investors on Sustainability - Drawing from interviews with Ceres investor partners, this report highlights key trends in investors’ evolving expectations for corporate sustainability. It presents nine recommendations to guide companies toward more meaningful and effective investor engagement on ESG issues, helping them to not only meet investor expectations, but also capture competitive advantage.

Investor Guide to Deforestation and Climate Change - This guide gives investors a framework to help them understand and engage on deforestation-driven climate risks across their portfolios. The guide will help investors  understand the drivers of deforestation risk and prioritize company engagements based on industries, geographies and sourcing patterns. The guide also outlines key expectations that investors should be looking for in corporate climate and deforestation commitments and example questions for company and sector engagements. The guide also provides concrete next steps investors can take to address deforestation risk.

The Investor Agenda - The Investor Agenda was developed for the global investor community to accelerate and scale up the actions that are critical to tackling climate change and achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement with the aim of keeping average global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Investor Agenda is a collaborative initiative that seeks to speed the transition to a net-zero emissions economy by 2050 or sooner. This includes elevating the profile of existing investor actions and initiatives on climate change and amplifying investor voices calling for government implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Companies in Action

PepsiCo aligns its policy advocacy with the Paris Agreement and urges its trade associations to adopt a similar stance when engaging on climate. Recognizing that individual company efforts alone will not be enough to shift to a green economy, PepsiCo has taken a number of steps to support strong climate policy in the U.S. Beyond aligning its own policy advocacy with the Paris Agreement, PepsiCo joined coalitions like the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, signed the American Business Act on Climate Pledge and was a founding member of the U.S. Climate Leadership Council.  Further, PepsiCo voices its support for climate policy outside of like-minded groups through its trade associations. The company annually reports on its trade association memberships and the climate positions of each group. PepsiCo uses its leverage as an association member by choosing to withhold funding from certain initiatives that do not align with the company’s positions. Beyond its financial leverage, PepsiCo ensures its dissenting opinions are voiced. For example, the company publicly stated its disagreement with the climate policy views of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Total S.A. reviews membership in industry associations to ensure alignment with its climate position. To collectively address the urgency of the climate crisis, companies are realizing the need to step up on public policy issues and assess how their lobbying efforts and those of industry association partners are aligned with scientific recommendations along with the company’s own sustainability priorities. In the company’s 2019 Integrating Climate Into Our Strategy report, Total examined the most significant industry associations the company is a part of to review their stance on climate issues. For those with a stated public position, Total looked into whether that position was aligned with its own ambitions based on six criteria: the scientific position; Paris Agreement; carbon pricing; the role of natural gas; development of renewable energy; and development of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). As a result of this exercise, the company made specific determinations about which memberships it will not renew and which it wants to maintain. Out of the 30 high-priority associations examined in 2019, Total reported having 26 whose climate commitments were aligned with the company. Total has disclosed a list of affiliations since 2016 and provided details in its 2019 report of the industry association review process and key outcomes.

Unilever CEO questions business groups and trade associations on their alignment with the company’s advocacy position and the ambitions set out in the Paris Agreement. To address the climate crisis, companies need to address impacts across the value chain and look for opportunities to elevate business voice in the public policy debate, extending expectations to partners to collectively take action. Unilever has long been a strong advocate for robust public policies on climate through different forums and industry collaborations.The company is also walking the talk and has set a target to become carbon positive in its operations by 2030. Looking to align its advocacy efforts with those of its business partners and trade associations, Unilever CEO Alan Hope in 2019 published a letter to these constituencies, asking them to confirm that their current lobbying position on climate policy is consistent with Unilever’s position and the 1.5° C ambition set out in the Paris Agreement. The letter also rallies partners to assess and amplify their ambitions to further align with the urgency of the climate crisis.