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"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, staff writer

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."

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