Fossil fuel companies should be “kicked out” of the climate negotiations in Paris at the end of this month, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has told the House of Commons.
Her comments were made during a questioning session with the Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, in parliament on Thursday afternoon.
Lucas said: “For over 20 years governments have met, yet greenhouse gas emissions have not decreased and the climate keeps changing. The forces of inertia and obstruction prevail, the fossil fuel giants and the politicians who do their bidding are responsible. And that’s why I call for the fossil fuel lobby to be kicked out of the UN climate negotiations.”
The Brighton Pavilion MP also emphasised the importance of divestment from fossil fuel companies, particularly parliament’s own pension fund, and criticised the government in general for its recent environmental policies including tax breaks for offshore oil and gas production and the removal of solar energy subsidies.
She warned that policies like these will weaken the UK’s credibility on climate change. Lucas said: “International leadership has to depend on domestic action at home otherwise it has absolutely no credibility and that is where I fear this Secretary of State is letting us down.”
COP21 Corporate Coup
Lucas’s words were echoed in a damning report issued earlier this week criticising the infiltration of big energy companies into climate negotiations since they began decades ago.
The report by the Corporate European Observatory (CEO) argues that “the market-based and techno-fix solutions on the table are diverting attention from the real culprits and delaying real action.”
They also claim that politicians have chosen measures that “suit existing business models and continued corporate profit making” which has largely been down to strong corporate lobbying.
Recent examples cited in the report include lobbying by the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association. Their current president, who is from Renault-Nissan (a COP21 sponsor) has consistently fought against tougher car emissions targets and been instrumental in delaying new testing procedures on behalf of its members – including Volkswagen, who used to chair the group.
This year's talks are also sponsored by some of France’s “dirtiest corporations”. This includes Air France, nuclear and coal giant EDF, energy utilities company Engie (formerly GDF Suez) and coal-financing bank BNP Paribas.
The report also looked to dispel the myth that gas is the clean alternative to dirty fossil fuels. It explains that the extraction process, particularly fracking, can be even worse for the climate than coal due to methane leakage.
Furthermore, the report states that focusing on gas means less attention is paid to proper clean energy solutions and it allows oil and gas companies to “remain in the driving seat” for future climate negotiations.
Cleaning up Negotiations
For these reasons, the report concludes that the big energy companies have already captured the negotiations.
A “fundamental change in approach” is therefore needed in order to make for truly significant negotiations it says.
CEO proposes that climate negotiations should follow the example of the World Health Organization, which introduced a firewall between public health officials and the tobacco industry, in order to effectively tackle the effects of smoking.