Groups: Keep Fossil Fuel Industry Out of Climate Talks

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Groups: Keep Fossil Fuel Industry Out of Climate Talks

Negotiations should have 'voices of the people, not polluters,' climate activists say.

Get the fossil fuels out of the conference, climate activists say.  (Photo:  Shubert Ciencia/flickr/cc)

As the UN climate talks wind down in Lima, Peru this week, climate activists are calling on officials to keep future negotiations free from the influence of the very industry causing the climate crisis.

The activists say that as at last year's climate talks in Poland, the industry has been allowed influence and "free reign" at the talks, during which negotiators are tasked with coming up with a deal to be agreed to in Paris next year. On Friday they delivered over 50,000 petition signatures collected by 350.org to the UN climate officials to underscore this message.

The petition reads, in part:

Negotiators have just proposed a new draft climate text that goes directly after the fossil fuel industry—one that would force companies like Exxon and Chevron to “cease to exist in their current forms” according to the Financial Times.

But the fossil fuel industry is fighting to roll back the agreement and weaken protections for countries like the Philippines. Unlike tobacco control talks where tobacco lobbyists are banned, the UN climate talks allow the fossil fuel industry free reign in their halls.

The fossil fuel industry has to be kicked out of climate talks so world leaders can take action for our future and do justice for the ones that did the least to cause climate change and are already feeling its impacts.

How does the industry exercise its influence at the negotiations? 350.org's Jamie Henn wrote:

For the last week, a group called the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) has been passing around a booklet of side events they are hosting throughout the summit. Scheduled for Monday is an event hosted by the Global CCS (carbon capture and sequestration) Institute that features speakers from Shell and the World Coal Association. The title: "Why Divest from Fossil Fuels When a Future with Low Emission Fossil Energy Use is Already a Reality?"

If you were looking for evidence that the divestment movement is beginning to put serious pressure on the fossil fuel industry, look no further. The title couldn't be more hilariously convoluted. First, low emission fossil fuels are an oxymoron. Second, even if they did exist, they're certainly not a reality today: carbon emissions are increasing each year and are directly tied to fossil fuel use.

With this one, even the industry lobbyists realized they'd gone a bit too far. Sometime this week, the event planners quietly changed the name of the panel too: "How can we reconcile climate targets with energy demand growth?" (They didn't however change the URL of the event, which still keeps the old title alive and well).

"This process needs to hear the voices of the people, not polluters," charged Hoda Baraka, Global Communications Manager for 350.org, in a media statement. "The fossil fuel industry is actively lobbying against climate action and standing in the way of progress. When you’re trying to burn the table down, you don’t deserve a seat at it."

Pascoe Sabido, Researcher and Campaigner at Corporate Europe Observatory, added: "It’s just common sense that those who are causing the crisis should be kept as far away from solving it as possible."

An updated database released Monday by the Climate Accountability Institute (CAI) highlights the fossil fuel industry's role in the climate crisis. Among the Institute's findings:

  • 65 percent of all anthropogenic CO2 emitted since 1751 from fossil fuels and cement are caused by just 90 entities.
  • Nearly one-third of all global industrial CO2 since that time is from carbon fuels produced by the top twenty fossil fuel companies, which include Chevron, ExxonMobil and BP.

"The delegates at the climate conference are dealing with emissions country-by-country," stated Richard Heede, the principal researcher who runs CAI. "Looking at emission through the lens of the relatively few companies that are actually producing the fuels paints a different, and complementary picture."

Reducing the influence of this industry—both on a global platform like the UN climate talks as well as at a national level—is key to enact climate-addressing changes, advocates say.

"Even if emissions plummeted today, climate change impacts will continue to mount," sated Angela Anderson, Director of Union of Concerned Scientists' Climate and Energy Program.

"The emissions commitments countries will pledge in Paris require policy changes at home. Reducing the influence of politically powerful carbon producers will help countries pass the laws that are needed. It is high time that these companies stop deceiving the public, stop polluting and take responsibility for the damages," said Anderson.

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