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Oxfam Calls on Dirty Industries to Clean up Their Act and Stop Sabotaging the EU’s Fight Against Climate Change

WASHINGTON - Dirty industries are blocking the European Union from making
more ambitious cuts to its greenhouse gas emissions while, at the same
time, making millions in profits from existing environment policy, says a
new report by international agency Oxfam.

With less
than a week to go before the start of crucial UN climate change talks in
Cancun, the new report, Crying Wolf: Industry Lobbying and Climate
Change in Europe, says groups representing carbon-intensive sectors such
as cement, steel and chemical production are lobbying against the EU
sharpening its emissions cuts from 20 per cent to 30 per cent below 1990
levels by 2020.

Report author Jodie Thorpe says: “These
industries are scare-mongering and greedy. Their lobbying will
contribute to the worsening impact that climate change is having on
millions of the poorest people in the world - who are least responsible
for causing the problem.

“At the same time, the industries appear blind to the huge economic benefits of moving towards a low-carbon economy.”

carbon-intensive European companies - including the world’s largest
private steel company, ArcelorMittal - are massively benefiting from
existing climate policy, notably the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
The 10 largest beneficiaries from the ETS can expect to accumulate a
stockpile worth €3bn at the end of the current phase of the ETS in 2012
(for full breakdown see Notes to Editors).

“This windfall is
even more than the €2.4bn promised by the EU at Copenhagen to help the
poorest communities cope with the impacts of climate change this year,”
said Thorpe.

“It is inconceivable that Europe can effectively
subsidize dirty industry with more money than it’s prepared to pledge to
those suffering most from climate change.”

The agency refutes
the claim, made by groups such as Brussels-based BusinessEurope, which
has 40 member federations in 34 countries including the UK’s
Confederation of British Industry that Europe cannot afford to
unilaterally adopt a 30 per cent target.

In fact, Europe risks
falling behind the likes of China and the US – both now poised to profit
from huge investment into low-carbon technologies. Europe’s
environmental sector already employs 3.4m people and accounts for 2.2
per cent of GDP. Meeting the new 30 per cent target would incur limited
additional costs, while potentially creating more jobs and reducing

Oxfam says the private sector has a vital role to
play in tackling climate change and welcomes the fact that not all
European companies support the position of carbon-intensive companies.
Many major firms, as well as investors, believe that the EU must take
strong measures. Companies including Unilever, Centrica, Johnson
Matthey, Lloyds, Nestle, Philips, Tesco and Vodafone, have all supported
the call for a 30% EU target.

“Big business can provide both the
vision and the means to help swing changes to public practices and to
pave the way for progressive policy, as we have seen with the European
Corporate Leaders’ Group,” Thorpe said.

“Many more companies are
recognizing that stronger political action on climate change will spark
new business opportunities. They are telling their investors as much in
their financial disclosures. However, too few are actually speaking out
publicly,” Thorpe said.

“Dirty industry groups are filling this vacuum but they are not representing the best interests of all.”


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Oxfam International is a confederation of 13 like-minded organizations working together and with partners and allies around the world to bring about lasting change. Oxfam works directly with communities and that seeks to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

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