Peabody, Exxon Accused of Undermining Climate Talks

by | Nov 6, 2009

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cumulativeemissionsmapNegotiations for a new climate treaty in Copenhagen this December are being blocked by a multi-national backlash led by fossil fuel industries and other heavy carbon emitters, according to a report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), an arm of the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity. According to the investigation, thousands of lobbyists, millions in political contributions, and widespread fear tactics are blocking steps that scientists say are needed to slow global warming.

The Global Climate Change Lobby, a new project by the ICIJ, builds on the center’s Climate Change Lobby reports that examined how special interests shaped the climate bill debate in Washington, D.C. The organization estimates that about $27 million was spent on such lobbying efforts from April to June alone.

The Global Climate Change Lobby focuses on economies expected to play a key role in climate talks leading up to a treaty: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, and the United States. Click here for a world map of the leading economies by current emissions, cumulative emissions, per capita emissions (tons per person) and intensity (tons per millions of international dollars).

Here are some of the report’s key findings:

The study finds that both developed and developing countries are under heavy pressure by fossil fuel industries and other carbon-intensive businesses to slow progress on negotiations and weaken government commitments. Lobbyists are seeking to weaken the Copenhagen treaty by acknowledging there is a problem while focusing on slowing or easing national commitments, say researchers.

The study also reveals that large multi-national companies are heavily influencing the debate including: Peabody Coal, the world’s largest coal company, in Australia and the United States; and, oil giant Exxon Mobil in Canada, the European Union, and the United States. The researchers say opponents of a strong climate change treaty are using similar fear tactics worldwide, including threats of massive blackouts and job losses.

The biggest lobbying efforts is most clearly seen in developed countries, say researchers, where official registers reveal that thousands of industry representatives have attempted to influence climate legislation. As an example, in the United States, there are now about 2,810 climate lobbyists, which is a 400 percent jump from six years earlier. And in Australia, Canada, and the European Union, hundreds more lobbyists are attempting to block or water down strict limits on carbon emissions, according to the research.

The investigation also found that China’s move to develop renewable energy, Brazil’s pledge to curb Amazon deforestation, and other steps to address climate change in the developing world have triggered a strong pushback from domestic interests.

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