A detailed and disturbing strategy document has revealed an extraordinary American plan to destroy Europe's support for the Kyoto treaty on climate change.
The ambitious, behind-the-scenes plan was passed to The Independent this
week, just as 189 countries are painfully trying to agree the second stage
of Kyoto at the UN climate conference in Montreal. It was pitched to
companies such as Ford Europe, Lufthansa and the German utility giant RWE.
Asked if he thought it was appropriate for a major American oil company to be funding a lobbyist targeting European companies, [ExxonMobil-funded lobbyist Chris Horner] replied:
'Everybody else does.'
Put together by a lobbyist who is a senior official at a group partly funded
by ExxonMobil, the world's biggest oil company and a fierce opponent of
anti-global warming measures, the plan seeks to draw together major
international companies, academics, think-tanks, commentators, journalists
and lobbyists from across Europe into a powerful grouping to destroy further
EU support for the treaty.
It details just how the so-called "European Sound Climate Policy
Coalition" would work. Based in Brussels, the plan would have
anti-Kyoto position papers, expert spokesmen, detailed advice and networking
instantly available to any politician or company who wanted to question the
wisdom of proceeding with Kyoto and its demanding cuts in carbon dioxide
It has been drawn up by Chris Horner, a senior official with the
Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute and a veteran campaigner
against Kyoto and against the evidence of climate change. One of his
colleagues who describes himself as an adviser to President George Bush
was the subject of a censure motion by the Commons last year after he
attacked the Government's chief scientist.
Mr Horner, whose CEI group has received almost $1.5m (£865,000) from
ExxonMobil, is convinced that Europe could be successfully influenced by
such a policy coalition just as the US government has been.
He thinks Europe's weakening economies are likely to be increasingly ill at
ease with the costs of meeting Kyoto. And in particular, he has spotted
something he thinks most of Europe has not yet woken up to. Most of the
original 15 EU Kyoto signatories Britain is an exception are on course
to miss their 2010 CO2 reduction targets. But under the terms of the treaty,
they will face large fines for doing so, in terms of much bigger reduction
targets in any second phase.
These will prove unacceptably costly to their economies, Mr Horner believes,
even if they try to buy their way out by buying up "spare"
emissions for cash from countries such as Russia. Mr Horner believes the
moment for his coalition is at hand and has been seeking support for it from
multinational companies. In his pitch to one major company, he wrote: "
In the US an informal coalition has helped successfully to avert adoption of
a Kyoto-style programme by maintaining a rational voice for civil society
and ensuring a legitimate debate over climate economics, science and
politics. This model should be emulated... to guide similar efforts in
Elsewhere he claimed: "A coalition addressing the economic and social
impacts of the EU climate agenda must be broad-based (cross industry) and
rooted in the member states. Other companies (including Lufthansa, Exxon,
Ford) have already indicated their interest!"
Last night green groups hit out. Kert Davies, Greenpeace's climate campaign
co-ordinator, which initially obtained the documents, said: "These are
the hitmen for the Bush administration and the likes of Exxon. They are
behind the scenes doing the dirty work. They are extending efforts to Europe
where they are trying to undermine the momentum to solve global warming."
While there is nothing illegal about the lobbying, the documents reveal a
rare insight into the well-funded efforts within the US to influence opinion
at senior levels of European corporations. Campaigners say the campaign is
similar to a notorious lobbying effort carried out during the 1990s to
undermine support for Kyoto within the US.
The revelation comes as international negotiators in Montreal are discussing
the next step within Kyoto and the possibility of introducing new emissions
targets. The Bush administration which has rejected the treaty has
insisted it will not agree to any measures that legally bind it to reduce
emissions. Mr Horner has been present this week in Montreal.
When contacted by The Independent, Mr Horner confirmed the strategy document
was the draft of a presentation he sent to RWE. He defended his lobbying
effort saying "that is what I do". He said he simply promoted a
point of view, as did Greenpeace. "I don't begrudge them what they do
[but] they begrudge me what I do," he said.
Asked if he thought it was appropriate for a major American oil company to
be funding a lobbyist targeting European companies, he replied: "
Everybody else does." But Mr Horner, who is also a senior figure within
the Cool Heads Coalition, a group that questions the evidence of global
warming and opposes any policies to "ration" energy, claimed his
efforts to influence opinion in Europe had been unsuccessful. He said RWE
had not taken up the suggestions contained within his presentation, and that
other companies had also rejected his ideas.
"I don't know why it's surprising [I have lobbied European companies],"
he said. "What is surprising to me is why it's not working." Ford
and RWE confirmed that they and other companies had met Mr Horner and other
advocates in Brussels last February. He had not been paid any fee nor had
they contributed to his expenses. Mr Horner apparently travelled to Europe
at the request of the European Enterprise Industry, a fledgling group hoping
to emulate the CEI.
Bill McAndrews, a spokesman for RWE, said: "He met with [us and] other
German companies in Brussels. Brussels is the EU capital, there are a lot of
people who come to meet. We have not approached him since then." He
added: "RWE talks to all sorts of people. We talk with Greenpeace and
the World Wildlife Fund. We discuss matters with all opinions. It's
important to hear everybody's side on such a global issue. It does not mean
that RWE shares that opinion."
In a statement, ExxonMobil, said: "The notion adopted by some groups
... that only their views and only their funding and lobbying are acceptable
is, in our opinion, not helpful to the debates vital to developing good
Adrian Schmitt, a spokesman for Ford Europe, said Mr Horner had met with
company representatives on one occasion "at a Brussels level". He
insisted that Ford had not supported Mr Horner's opinions. "Exactly the
opposite. Our position is that climate change is a serious issue and
appropriate steps need to be taken now."
He said that the company had been one of the first companies to withdraw its
support for the Global Climate Coalition a now-defunct lobbying effort
that worked to oppose US reductions in greenhouse gas emissions during the
© 2005 Independent News and Media Limited