International financial firms fund lobby group suing to stop Obama’s signature climate policy

Two of the world’s largest accounting firms are members of a lobby group that is taking legal action against the Obama administration’s signature climate change policy, Unearthed can reveal.

Despite publicly supporting the President’s Clean Power Plan, which will curb power plant carbon emissions, Ernst & Young (EY) and the US branch of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) remain members of a trade group suing to block it.

Both have refused to comment on the lawsuit or leave the association despite car giant Volvo’s recent announcement that it would quit the group over its position on climate policy.

PwC is outspoken in its support climate action and has even sponsored many events around the Paris summit.

In a statement, the National Mining Association (NMA) said the plan could cause “immediate and substantial harm” by forcing the closure of coal power plants across the US.

Its lawsuit is one of a number filed against Obama’s environmental rules in what appears to be a coordinated attack by conservative groups and the fossil fuel companies on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its power to regulate emissions.

The Clean Power Plan is one of Obama’s key accomplishments, and is the foundation of international climate change negotiations at the Paris summit, and with the Chinese government in particular.

Without it, the White House would be unable to deliver any climate commitments it has made or will make.

Dilemma for NMA members

PwC and EY’s ties to the lawsuit raises questions over whether the two accounting giants actually support climate action in the US.

PwC’s membership in particular is at odds with its public positioning, with its US branch signing up to the ‘American Business Act on Climate Pledge’ and its international branch signing up to an open letter calling for “an ambitious climate deal at COP21”.

EY meanwhile has previously referred to the Clean Power Plan glowingly, calling it “arguably its most comprehensive and far-reaching emissions reduction legislation to date, with the potential to significantly increase renewable energy deployment over the next 15 years”.

Chinese-owned car company Volvo and Swedish manufacturer SKF this week said that they will exit the NMA due to its longstanding opposition to action on climate change.

German engineering giant Siemens, another prominent member of the lobby group, has moved to distance itself from the case.

It said: “Siemens does not support the position of the NMA for the Clean Power Plan.

“This does not mean that we therefore terminate our membership in the association. We can use our association membership to advertise in the industry for the use and development of climate-friendly and green technologies ”

Just the other day American Electric Power, one of the largest utilities in the country, announced its intention to quit the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in order to work towards complying with the Clean Power Plan.

Both PwC and EY confirmed their membership of the group, but declined to comment.