The European Parliament has agreed to push to curb the access of fossil fuel lobbyists at international climate negotiations.
MEPs today voted for a motion that gives a European Parliament delegation to the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) meetings license to encourage countries to limit the access of organisations that could dampen the ambition of the process.
Swedish Green MEP Max Andersson, who was instrumental in tabling the motion, said countries at the talks could now point to European Parliament’s stance to make sure the issue of corporate lobbying stayed on the agenda. He told DeSmog UK:
“As a member of the European Parliament, I see the impacts of corporate lobbying every week.”
“The coal and oil lobby have enormous economic incentive in trying to get the solutions postponed. They want to burn as much coal and oil as possible. And we see that they are lobbying at the climate conferences, and we think it has an impact.”
“Organisations that don’t even want the Paris Agreement to exist should not be observers at the climate conference. We could just have that as a starting point.”
The motion states that the European Parliament:
“Welcomes the inclusiveness of UNFCCC's process; considers that ensuring effective participation requires that the issue of vested or conflicting interests be addressed; in this context, calls for all participants to the process to put in place guidelines or procedures that enhance openness, transparency, and inclusiveness without compromising the aims and objectives of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement.”
Reinhard den Toom, a spokesperson for Green MEP Bas Eikhout who attends the negotiations as part of the European Parliament's delegation, told DeSmog UK that there were “good reasons” to restrict the access of corporate lobbyists.
“Fossil fuel lobbies sponsor events but also just walking around and influencing those countries that have less means to send a lot of people to negotiations who are quite vulnerable to any input they can get. It’s quite counter-intuitive that you discuss climate policies and that you have such large amounts of money from the fossil fuel industry around.”
“This is the same lobby that has been influencing and has been shown to spend more and more money on so-called scientific research with the purpose of creating doubt around the science of climate change.”
Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, said in a statement after today's vote:
“I am delighted to see MEPs coming together to support our resolution to keep vested interests out of climate negotiations today. The European Parliament is sending a strong message: we won't stand for dirty energy lobbyists and climate deniers subverting the absolutely critical fight against climate change. It's time to increase transparency in UN climate negotiations and stop polluting industries having access to them.”
“The resolution passed today is a reminder that it is by working together with our neighbours that we have the best chance of tackling the most pressing issue we face today. Climate change has no respect for boundaries and a collaborative approach is essential while strength in numbers is also the best way to resist the dirty lobbyists.”
“The EU is showing climate change leadership while Theresa May threatens to kowtow to climate dinosaurs in both the US and Northern Ireland. It is clearer every day that the greatest risk to UK progress on climate change is Brexit. While it might only be a resolution at this stage it is important to remember that everything big starts with something small.”
Countries are set to meet in Bonn for two weeks from the November 6 for the next round of talks.
At recent meetings, countries have been pushing for an enhanced transparency policy, and measures similar to article 5.3 of the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which was adopted to protect policies from the vested interests of the tobacco industry.
Prior to the last round of talks in Marrakech, a report by NGO Corporate Accountability International (CAI) showed the influence that more than 270 business and industry groups had on the negotiations.
“Right now hundreds of business trade associations have access to the climate talks, and many of them are funded by some of the world’s biggest polluters and climate change deniers,” CAI’s Tamar Lawrence-Samuel, said in a statement at the time. “With so many arsonists in the fire department, it’s no wonder we’ve failed to put the fire out.”
Sriram Madhusoodanan, Corporate Accountability International's deputy campaigns director, said today's vote was “a turning of the tide”.
“For far too long, Big Polluters’ obstruction has undermined, weakened, and blocked urgently-needed climate policy that protects people and the planet.”
“As the Trump administration moves to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, the United States’ cornerstone climate policy, today’s vote shows that Trump’s fossil fuel-friendly agenda is increasingly being left behind by an international community demanding serious action to address climate change.”
Main photo credit: Bob via Flickr CC BY 2.0. Updated 04/10/2017: Quotes from Reinhard den Toom were added. A statement from Keith Taylor was added. A statement from Sriram Madhusoodanan was added.