Sat, Nov 04, 2017 - Page 9 News List

Fossil fuel companies undermining Paris Agreement negotiations

A new report uncovers a litany of ways in which the biggest corporate polluters have gained high-level access to negotiations and manipulated outcomes

By Michael Slezak  /  The Guardian

Global negotiations seeking to implement the Paris Agreement have been captured by corporate interests and are being undermined by powerful forces that benefit from exacerbating climate change, according to a report released ahead of the second meeting of parties to the Paris Agreement — COP23 — next week.

The report, coauthored by Corporate Accountability, uncovers a litany of ways in which fossil fuel companies have gained high-level access to negotiations and manipulated outcomes.

It highlights a string of examples, including that of a negotiator for Panama who is also on the board of a corporate peak body that represents carbon traders such as banks, polluters and brokers.

It also questions the role of the world’s biggest polluters in sponsoring the meetings in return for access to high-level events.

The report said that as a result of the corporate influence, outcomes of negotiations so far have been skewed to favor the interests of the world’s biggest corporate polluters over those of the majority of the world’s population that live in the developing world.

It finds that influence has skewed outcomes on finance, agriculture and technology.

It comes as the 2018 deadline approaches for member countries to finalize the rule book that guides the implementation of the Paris Agreement. That rule book will determine things such as how compliance would be monitored and enforced and how the developing world would receive finance and support.

“We’ve been at many crossroads on climate change, but this is perhaps one of the last of those that we have left,” Corporate Accountability’s Jesse Bragg said. “If parties don’t arrive at a set of guidelines that actually facilitates the transition we’ve been talking about and keeps us under 1.5°C, we may never have another shot at this.”

“We’re doing this wrong right now. We have the wrong people at the table and we’re looking to the wrong people for advice. If we don’t course-correct at COP 23 and the next inter-sessional in Bonn [Germany], we’re in real trouble. And you can look at what’s happened so far to see the evidence of that.”

INFILTRATORS

Examples of the infiltration of polluters into the official negotiations include: The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Climate Technology Network, which advises on how to develop and transfer “green” technology to the developing world, which includes a member of the World Coal Association, and its board has included managers at Shell and EDF — one of the world’s biggest electricity producers.

A negotiator for Panama is currently a board member of the International Emissions Trading Association (Ieta) and was previously its president for several years. Ieta was set up by the fossil fuel companies including BP and Rio Tinto in order to make sure climate action caused “minimal economic harm.”

Today its members include Chevron, BHP, Dow, Duke Energy, Repsol, Xcel Energy, Veolia and Statoil.

Sponsorship of the COP21 meeting in Paris gave fossil fuel companies access to the “communications and networking area” inside the rooms where the negotiations were taking place.

Big agricultural corporations such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Yara have been lobbying heavily at UNFCCC meetings, with Monsanto even cocharing the World Business Council on Sustainable Development’s Climate-Smart Agriculture working group.

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