November 21, 2013

Diary of a Corporate COP: how polluting industry is presenting its false solutions at COP19

BusinessEurope, the European Commission and the Polish fossil lobby
Source: Corporate Europe Observatory (
November 16th 2013, Climate and Energy

At the end of week one of the UN's 19th climate conference, and after thousands of people have today marched through Warsaw demanding real, just, effective and ambitious climate action, we take a look back at some of the polluters' propaganda events that have been happening inside, and outside, COP19.

The beginning of week one of COP19's corporate party brought an official side event inside the COP, on 12 November, called 'Low Emission Poland? Yes we (do) care!' It was organised by Forum of Gas and Electricity Receivers (yes, a massive gas and fossil fuel lobby), Forum CO2 (a Polish business and heavy industry club) and the Polish Ministry of Environment (the host of the climate talks and better known as the ministry of coal). The event attempted to portray the Polish government, ahem, as a friend of the climate. Present was not only the European Commission's Hans Bergman, from DG CLIMA, but none other than the European employer's federation BusinessEurope's very own Nick Campbell. Who – as you can read about in our COP19 lobby guide – is the head of notorious climate-action blockers BusinessEurope's climate change working group. Oh, and he works for chemicals giant Arkema. And did we mention that he used to simultaneously chair the climate group of chemicals lobby CEFIC and the Climate Change Task Force of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)? All of which lobby for false solutions to climate change: unjust and ineffective carbon markets that make the rich polluters richer and no less dirty; unconventional fossil fuels like environmentally and socially destructive shale gas; against binding or ambitious targets and mechanisms on emissions reductions or energy savings; and, of course, for the protection of their monopolies through intellectual property rights.

No surprise then that having infiltrated the COP, in an official side event, Campbell's message was about how industry is already doing its part, how important competitiveness is and that a low electricity price is crucial to that. Oh, and that the EU's flagship climate policy, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS, which has brought millions of euros in windfall profits to big business and industry whilst allowing them to continue without making domestic emissions reductions – see Carbon Markets box in the lobby guide) is already tough enough. As far as Campbell is concerned, you'll get competitiveness by getting a global agreement – by which he really means, a global agreement that treats all countries the same – in other words, one that ignores historical responsibility and climate justice, and so is not only unfair but in practice impossible. Because countries in the global South who are suffering most from climate change but did least to cause it would never accept such an unjust agreement.

Chemical industry lobby CEFIC was also on the panel, with its executive secretary William Garcia reiterating that the key word is competitiveness, and realism, and of course, making threats about carbon leakage from Europe. A threat for which, by the way, there is no evidence of, nothing to show that industry/ business is leaving or would leave the EU because of its climate and energy policies. But that didn't stop another panel member, hard right Polish ECR MEP Konrad Srymanski from insisting that Europe has already delivered so much, and that setting any kind of ambitious emissions reduction example is just ridiculous (climate justice, I hear you say?). According to Srymanski, it doesn't help, it is economically harmful, nobody is following “us” (Europe) – in fact, they just want to free-ride on our reductions!


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