Planet Earth in Serious Trouble as Big Polluters Capture Global Climate Treaty Talks
It's been a summer of catastrophic weather events: monsoons in India and Bangladesh, hurricanes in the Caribbean and the U.S. Southeast, and wildfires across the U.S. West. The impacts of climate change are killing people and destroying communities, and we need bold action on climate policy, now. But as delegates from around the world head to COP23, the annual meeting of the U.N. climate treaty, Corporate Accountability's new report exposes just how big a threat corporate capture poses to securing bold and visionary climate policy.
"Polluting Paris: How Big Polluters are Undermining Global Climate Policy" is a first-of-its-kind assessment of corporate capture in the history of the U.N. climate treaty (formally known as the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change). It finds that transnational corporations, and the governments in their pockets, are pushing a pro-industry, anti-regulation agenda. As a result, a menu of false solutions are front and center in the treaty negotiations where delegates hope to hammer out the details in implementing the Paris Agreement over the next weeks.
For example, corporate influence has tilted the negotiations toward market-oriented trading mechanisms that benefit the industry groups and corporations supporting them. Meanwhile, non-market solutions like direct finance and binding emissions reductions—solutions backed by evidence proving their effectiveness—have been pushed to the back burner.
The release of this report provides support for and bolsters the work of government delegates from across the Global South who are advocating for true, people-centered solutions to climate change. It was written in collaboration with the Asian Peoples' Movement on Debt and Development, Corporate Europe Observatory, Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group) and ActionAid International.
U.S., EU and trade associations push fossil fuel agenda
In an unsurprising twist, the report also reveals that many global north governments—with Donald Trump and the U. S. front and center—are acting at the behest of the fossil fuel and other polluting industries to undermine progress. The Trump administration has unprecedented ties to the fossil fuel industry. Many of Trump's appointees used to work on behalf of oil, coal and gas industries, while many more are either deeply invested in the industry or claim to doubt the settled science of climate change.
Indeed, “Polluting Paris” is the latest report in a growing body of evidence that clearly shows corporate interference—often orchestrated by corporate lobbyists, industry groups, and Global North governments—is one of the primary obstacles to climate progress.
Additionally, the report exposes the influence of trade associations like the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA). IETA's members include oil giants BP and Chevron, and coal corporations BHP Biliton, Duke Energy and Rio Tinto. The trade group has insinuated itself so far into the talks, one of its own board members negotiates on behalf of Panama and is a co-coordinator on market mechanisms for the largest negotiating bloc at the U.N. climate treaty.
"If we don’t put an end to it now, lobbyists and delegates representing industry interests will ensure the Paris Agreement promotes—rather than protects against—the money-making schemes of the world’s biggest polluters," said Tamar Lawrence-Samuel, international policy director at Corporate Accountability.
Kicking big polluters out
Corporate Accountability is organizing to put an end to it. A team of organizers and experts from Corporate Accountability are at the negotiations to support governments committed to curbing corporate capture of global climate policy. People across the U.S. can also take action to support this call.
Corporate Accountability's climate campaign builds on a 40-year history of successfully moving transnational corporations to end their abuses. In the early 2000s, we supported governments and allies in the Global South to protect the World Health Organization’s global tobacco treaty from Big Tobacco’s influence and remove the industry from public health policymaking.
The initiative to kick Big Polluters out of climate policy builds on the precedence set by that treaty.
And it's gaining great traction globally. In May 2017, the issue of corporate influence in the climate talks captured international attention at the treaty meetings. The meeting culminated in calls from governments for a conflict of interest policy. And just last month, the European Parliament called for its negotiators to prioritize addressing the harmful influence of polluting industry interests at COP23. While the European Council ultimately overlooked that call, we expect governments to take up the issue again at the next intersessional talks in May 2018.