Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"We must eliminate this conflict of interest before COPs become corporate tradeshows for false market-based solutions," said Patti Lynn, executive director of Corporate Accountability International. (Image: Corporate Europe Observatory)

"We must eliminate this conflict of interest before COPs become corporate tradeshows for false market-based solutions," said Patti Lynn, executive director of Corporate Accountability International. (Image: Corporate Europe Observatory)

New Report Digs the Dirt on the Corporate Criminals Sponsoring Climate Talks

Inviting major polluters to pay for the talks compared to 'hiring a fox to guard a hen house'

Sarah Lazare

From financial giant BNP Paribas to fossil fuels company Engie, the same corporations that deny science and drive carbon pollution are now sponsoring, co-opting, and interfering with the upcoming United Nations climate talks in Paris, a new exposé reveals.

Fueling the Fire: The corporate sponsors bankrolling COP21 was published by Corporate Accountability International on Monday—a week ahead of the opening of the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) summit in Paris.

While it was no secret that the long list of corporate sponsors behind the talks raises numerous conflict-of-interest concerns, Monday's report digs up new dirt on the dealings of four major backers: fossil fuel corporations Engie and Suez Environment, global banking giant BNP Paribas, and French utility Électricité de France (EDF).

"Together, these four corporate sponsors represent direct ownership of and/or investments in: more than 46 coal-fired power plants; exploration of oil sands in Canada, hydraulic fracturing in the UK, and the Tata Mundra coal-fired power plant in Gujarat, India; more than €15 billion invested in the coal industry since 2005; and more than 200 megatons of CO2 equivalent emissions," a report summary states.

What's more, the investigation finds, these companies have a history of "political interference in policy-making through a range of underhanded tactics; their vested interests in emissions-intensive industrial practices; their global integration with other corporations and industrial sectors that profit from climate-damaging investments; and their slick efforts to green-wash their profit motives and climate crimes through new public-relations practices of 'corporate social and environmental responsibility.'"

For example, EDF, as part of BusinessEurope, works alongside oil giants like Shell to actively oppose policies that favor renewable energy.

And Engie, which already owns 30 high-polluting coal power plants across the globe, is planning to sell some of its facilities rather than shut them down.

Yet, despite their poor track records, these and other corporations have been invited to participate in the process as stakeholders and given access to multiple levels of decision making.

Grassroots and social movement organizations have long argued that there should, in fact, be no room at the negotiating table for companies seeking to exploit the planet for profit. People around the world—from Kenya to Colombia—mobilized in October to demand that fossil fuel corporations be kicked out of COP21.

"Every day we feel the effects of climate change—a crisis we did little to create," the Uganda-based National Association of Professional Environmentalists said last month. "Today, the people of Uganda are saying ‘enough is enough. It is time for community-based renewable energy systems and policy that is determined by the people, not the world’s largest energy corporations. It’s time to kick big polluters out of the process for good."

"Inviting some of the world's biggest polluters to pay for the COP is akin to hiring a fox to guard a hen house," said Patti Lynn, executive director of Corporate Accountability International, in a statement accompanying Monday's report. "We must eliminate this conflict of interest before COPs become corporate tradeshows for false market-based solutions."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'What Happens When You Warm a Planet': Massive Flooding Kills At Least 8 in Seoul

"Two months' worth of rain in half a day. We are in a climate emergency," wrote meteorologist Eric Holthaus.

Jake Johnson ·

Trump Says Mar-a-Lago 'Under Siege, Raided, and Occupied' by FBI

"The accountability our democracy desperately needs for its survival might, just might, be a real possibility," said the head of a watchdog group.

Common Dreams staff ·

New Ad Against Herschel Walker Features Ex-Wife's Domestic Violence Accusations

A leader at the anti-Trump group behind the advertisement targeting the U.S. Senate candidate said that "our campaign is built around the voices of Georgia Republicans who know that he's unfit for office."

Jessica Corbett ·

Michigan AG Urges Probe of Alleged GOP-Led Effort to Break Into Voting Machines

"We must denounce the Big Lie and those who refuse to uphold the will of the people in our elections," said one democracy defender.

Brett Wilkins ·

Hopes Rise for Return to Iran Nuclear Deal Destroyed by Trump

"We stand five minutes or five seconds from the finish line," said one negotiator, who added that "three or four issues" that are "sensitive for Iranians and Americans" remain to be resolved.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo