Europe's coal lobby association EURACOAL paid for climate science denier Patrick Moore to speak to members of the European Parliament (MEP) and EU officials at an intimate dinner-debate last month, DeSmog UK can reveal.
As a March newsletter sent out by the European Energy Forum (EEF) details, Moore was invited as the main speaker at the dinner hosted by EURACOAL on 2 February in Strasbourg entitled “Climate Demons or Climate Gods: Coal Industry Stakes Its Future”.
An EEF press officer confirmed to DeSmog UK that coal lobbyists EURACOAL invited Moore to speak. The Canadian climate science denier is known for promoting the idea that “We should celebrate CO2 as the giver of life it is”.
EURACOAL describes itself as “the voice of coal in Europe” and acts as an umbrella group for associations and research groups across 20 countries.
When asked whether EURACOAL paid for Moore to present that evening, Brian Ricketts, secretary-general of EURACOAL, told DeSmog UK: “Yes, you are correct. EURACOAL did cover Dr. Moore’s travel expenses from Canada and the time he devoted to preparing and giving his presentation to a small group in the European Parliament.”
“Unfortunately, I cannot disclose exactly what was paid [to] Dr. Moore as that would not be very professional,” he wrote via email. “However, it reflected c.5 days’ work for preparation time and long-haul travel.”
According to Moore’s agent’s site, it seems to cost between CAD$5,000 and $7,000 (£2,631 – £3,684) to have Moore speak at an event.
The EEF, which organises events for industry stakeholders and MEPs, describes the dinner-debate on its website: “With COP21 concluded, the EU must make an important decision: to continue its high-ambition climate change agenda or to moderate its ambition. This decision will have a profound impact on the future of coal in Europe.”
However, Ricketts added that “For your information, EURACOAL gave no advice or instructions on what Dr. Moore presented or on what he said during the Q&A session – he was free to say whatever he wanted. So, for example, I don’t recall him saying anything in particular about coal and lignite.”
Among those in attendance at the February dinner were Paul Rübig, Austrian MEP and member of the EU’s committee on industry, research and energy, Eero Ailio, deputy head of coal and oil retail markets unit for the European Commission's Director-General for Energy (DG Energy), and Jo Leinen, a German MEP.
MEPs are responsible for representing their city or region to the European Union, and when necessary, lobbying the European Commission on relevant issues.
Ricketts and Roger Helmer, an MEP for the East Midlands and climate science denier, were also at the dinner. They are pictured above standing with Moore.
Ricketts made headlines at the end of last year for his post-Paris statement that the fossil fuel sector “will be hated and vilified, in the same way that slave traders were once hated and vilified”.
In a response to the Guardian article on his comments, Ricketts clarified EURACOAL's and the industry's stance on climate change: “While we do question the future potential of renewables, EURACOAL has no view on climate science. However, it is fair to say that many in the coal industry are climate sceptics.”
EEF states that its aim is to provide “open discussion” between MEPs, industry, and others active in the energy sector ahead of decisions taken on energy related EU legislation so as to “ensure the decisions are based on accurate information reflecting a variety of points of view.”
Among EEF's members are at least 30 MEPs and oil giants Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, and Chevron along with Centrica, Lukoil, and Statoil. Trade associations and lobby groups, including EURACOAL, are also members.
And as the EEF’s website describes, EURACOAL’s aim “is to discover the truth behind climate science”.
Moore, however, believes that humans are not to blame for global warming and is known for promoting misinformation when it comes to the science of climate change.
Recently Moore, who works at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy in Canada, appeared at the Paris climate conference with known US climate-denial groups the Heartland Institute, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), and the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) to hold a ‘counter-conference’ to discourage action on climate change.
Moore also achieved fantastic notoriety after he claimed on camera in March 2015 that glyphosate – the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide – is safe to drink.
Although a World Health Organization study had recently concluded that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic,” Moore boasted to the filmmaker: “People try to commit suicide with it and fail fairly regularly.” But Moore refused to follow through on his suggestion by drinking a glass of the herbicide, saying “I'm not an idiot”.
When asked to comment on his EURACOAL presentation Moore said: “I consider DeSmog to be a hate site. So bugger off.”
This isn't the first time Moore has used offensive language against those he disagrees with. In October 2014, when Moore was speaking at Amherst College in Massachusetts, he described the students who walked out in protest as having a “Taliban mindset”.
Moore's EURACOAL dinner speech saw him promoting his “celebrate CO2” catchphrase. He gave the dinner guests “an unconventional interpretation of the whole climate and energy issue,” as the EEF states in its newsletter.
And as a photo from the event shows, it appears the presentation he gave that night was similar to a speech given at the climate sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation’s (GWPF) annual lecture last October in London entitled “Should we celebrate CO2?”
Moore’s February presentation is described as having “fostered an inclusive policy discussion based on a broad scientific basis, questioning the selective use of science which, in Dr Moore’s view, has led in some cases to widely accepted myths.”
EEF’s account of the dinner states that Moore told MEPs that “there is no definitive scientific proof that human emissions are the dominant influence on climate” and that carbon dioxide in fact benefits the planet by increasing plant growth.
The myth that ‘CO2 is good for the planet’ has been trotted out by the GWPF and its members several times. DeSmog UK debunks this claim here and here.
‘Options for Thinking’
Moore’s speech was followed by a presentation from Mark van Stiphout, deputy head of unit for new energy technologies, innovation and clean coal at DG Energy.
Van Stiphout argued that “coal is still an important provider of electricity in Europe,” according to the March newsletter.
He also noted that “research and investment are being encouraged to adapt coal to the increasing need for flexibility in power generation and to develop CCS [carbon capture and storage] solutions.”
According to dinner attendee and Austrian MEP Rübig, the night’s discussion provided participants with “options for thinking”.
EU Climate Targets
The EURACOAL dinner-debate was held in advance of a meeting in Brussels on 4 March where environment ministers discussed the EU’s next steps after the COP21 climate summit.
In anticipation of this meeting, and another planned for 17-18 March, EURACOAL has urged the European Commission to implement a less ambitious climate target.
In a 15 February statement, EURACOAL President Wolfgang Ceislik said: “EURACOAL calls on President Tusk and all 28 EU leaders to reject the 40% target and to adopt a less ambitious, more realistic target that can deliver more for Europe.”
While the European Commission initially did not put forward a more ambitious climate target in line with the Paris Agreement’s aim of reducing warming to “well below” 2C, last week Europe’s chief climate negotiator, Artur Runge-Metzger, confirmed that he is open to increasing the EU’s carbon target for 2030.
This followed calls from ministers from 10 countries including the UK, Germany, France, and Luxembourg for the Commission to increase its climate ambition. However, it is unknown whether climate change will be on the agenda for this week's summit.
Photo from left to right: Ricketts, Helmer, and Moore via EEF.