Corporate polluters are driving global warming and must not be allowed to steer—or even participate in—the ongoing processes of the United Nations whose stated aim is to develop global solutions to the climate crisis, a coalition of civil society organizations declared Wednesday.
Twenty organizations, including Amazon Watch and Climate Action Network International, delivered a petition to "kick big polluters out of climate policy"—bearing 224,000 signatures—to the UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany.
With this latest round of discussions ending in disappointment for climate justice advocates, the groups set their sights on the future, focusing on the UN Conference of the Parties 21, or COP 21, negotiations slated to take place in Paris later this year.
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"We call on you to take immediate action to protect COP21 and all future negotiations from the influence of big polluters," reads the petition, addressed to UN officials. "Given the fossil fuel industry’s years of interference intended to block progress, push false solutions, and continue the disastrous status quo, the time has come to stop treating big polluters as legitimate 'stakeholders' and to remove them from climate policymaking."
"Big polluters have an existential profit motive to continue extracting and burning fossil fuels," said Amanda Starbuck of Rainforest Action Network, one of the organizations behind the petition. "The rest of humanity has an existential survival imperative to keep fossil fuels in the ground. These fundamentally opposed interests should automatically disqualify the fossil fuel industry from participating in the global climate talks—period."
Despite the ever worsening crisis of global warming, the UN has a track record of giving corporations a front seat to the global climate process.
"Big polluters have an existential profit motive to continue extracting and burning fossil fuels"
—Amanda Starbuck, Rainforest Action Network
"At the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Warsaw, corporations with a direct conflict of interest in the treaty’s success not only sponsored the talks, they were given preferential access to delegates," noted Corporate Accountability International, another backer of the petition.
The Paris talks are not expected to break this mold.
Pierre-Henri Guignard, Secretary-General of COP21, revealed in May that the talks will be sponsored by corporations, including French energy companies Engie and EDF, whose coal plants are responsible for nearly half of France's emissions.
"We see the dirty hands of these corporations not only reflected in their underwriting of the COP21 but also in the false solutions now proposed in the [Bonn] agreement itself, including carbon pricing, climate smart agriculture, REDD+, Carbon Capture and Storage, nuclear, fracking, and other technological strategies which cause great harm to our communities and continue the dangerous the warming of the planet," Cindy Wiesner of Grassroots Global Justice told Common Dreams.
The corporate takeover has sparked outrage and mobilization far beyond the signatories to Wednesday's petition. Civil society and social movement organizations around the world are already gearing up to protest the heavy role of multinationals in the Paris talks and continue their calls for a real—and system-wide—solution to the climate crisis.
A new poll by World Wide Views on Climate and Energy indicates that concern about climate change is near universal. Based on consultations with thousands of people in 75 countries, the study concludes that nearly 80 percent of the people are concerned about the impacts of global warming.