Corporate Accountability International (CAI) has exposed a conflict of interest in the ongoing climate talks in Paris in a new report titled “Fueling the fire: the big polluters bankrolling COP21” which focuses on the environmental destruction and public policy interference of the leading COP21 sponsors.
The report lays bare the extent to which the climate policy is coopted, undermined and blocked by polluting industries, amidst a growing chorus by civil society that the big polluters are kicked out. Already, 550,000 individuals and groups have taken action demanding language that in the discussions that curb undue industry influence.
In addition to policy interference, the report exposes the reality behind the green façade advanced by the COP sponsors. Engie, an early sponsor of COP21, is said to be a polluter with few rivals and was directly responsible for more than 131 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2014, equivalent to the pollution emitted from driving around the globe 12 million times.
The Paris meetings have come under heavy scrutiny from media and environmental groups for their unprecedented level of corporate sponsorship and corporate capture from some of the world’s biggest polluters.
“Inviting some of the world’s biggest polluters to pay for the COP is akin to hiring a fox to guard a hen house,” said Patti Lynn, executive director of Corporate Accountability International. “We must eliminate this conflict of interest before COPs become corporate tradeshows for false market-based solutions.”
“In Nigeria, the deadly effects of Shell’s unholy alliance with our government has left deep scars on our country.” said Philip Jakpor from Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, a member of the global coalition, “Whether it’s sponsorship or back-door lobbying, we must protect climate policy making from those who wish to undermine it.”
Corporate sponsorship of the treaty meetings is just one example of the many ways in which corporate cooptation of and interference in climate policy has become commonplace. In both the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and in national governments, the fossil fuel industry has inserted itself as a stakeholder in the process in order to drive policymakers toward industry friendly “solutions” and delay or water down policy.
The Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA), a joint project of the Peruvian and French COP presidencies, the Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and, the UNFCCC Secretariat, is a series of commitments and initiatives involving more than 1,700 corporations including Shell, Total, ExxonMobil and other big polluters. In Paris, the Secretariat will make the LPAA a primary focus, even folding it into the agenda and formal outcomes of the talks. The project’s “open-door” policy has welcomed the participation of not only the world’s largest fossil fuel corporations, but also corporations involved in coal mining and hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” as well transnational energy utilities.
In the final week of the treaty meetings, the Kick Big Polluters Out coalition said it will continue to challenge the myriad avenues big polluting industries use to obstruct and coopt the process. The campaign is supported by a global coalition of groups, including 350.org, Friends of the Earth International, the Demand Climate Justice Network and the Climate Action Network .
Key findings and recommendations of “Fueling the Fire”:
Four of the Paris talks’ corporate sponsors directly own and/or hold investments in some of the most carbon-intensive energy projects in the world, from oil sands in Canada to hydraulic fracturing exploration in the UK and even the Tata Mundra coal-fired power plant in India.
The report notes that such conflict of interest ensures it is impossible for these corporations to be meaningful contributors toward sound climate policy. These corporations (and many of the other sponsors) are businesses predicated on the continued and unencumbered extraction of fossil fuels, and massive financial incentive to ensure dysfunction, delay, or redirection of the UNFCCC.
There is an inherent conflict of interest between the stated aims of the UNFCCC and many of COP21’s corporate sponsors, given their role as global carbon pollute.
According to the report, the same fossil fuel corporations that allow their trade associations to deny science and deceive the public about climate change have interfered with the proceedings and operations of the UNFCCC.
The report calls for the replication for the UNFCCC of an existing UN legal precedent: Article 5.3 of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The provision has protected national and international-level tobacco control and public health policymaking from the corrosive influence of the tobacco industry for a decade and with great success–implementation of this and other substantive measures of the treaty is rapidly expanding and nearly 90% of the world’s population is covered by it.