‘Arsonists in the Fire Department’ Block Global Progress on Climate
It’s time to protect the international processes leading up to international deals like the Paris agreement from “dirty fossil fuel trade associations that are stalking the halls of the U.N. climate talks to undermine, weaken, and block progress,” Corporate Accountability International concludes in a report issued Monday.
The analysis hits just a week before national climate negotiators arrive in Bonn for mid-year meetings.
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“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,” said International Policy Director Tamar Lawrence-Samuel. “With so many arsonists in the fire department, it’s no wonder we’ve failed to put the fire out.”
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change recognizes 270 business/industry non-government organizations (BINGOs), and the CAI report focuses on six of them: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Mining Association, the Business Roundtable, FuelsEurope, the Business Council of Australia, and the International Chamber of Commerce.
“Under current UNFCCC policies, industry representatives like the World Coal Association, which aggressively promotes a coal-centred agenda, sit in the very rooms where delegates discuss policy options to avert climate disaster,” the report states. “These industry representatives are given free access to roam the same halls as world leaders who are working to ensure a sustainable future for all of humanity—not the fossil fuel industry exclusively. Like their fossil fuel funders, these organizations have hefty track records of climate denialism and a portfolio that includes using backhanded tactics to stop key climate policies in their tracks.”
Corporate Accountability International does see a role for business in the drive to implement the Paris agreement and decarbonize the global economy.
“The industry must transform its business practices to align with the essential commitments made by the global community to rein in the crisis,” the report states. “It must embrace the many viable solutions created by the scientific and technological community to minimize further irreversible climate devastation, while striving to meet the social and economic needs of a rapidly developing world. But it should not attempt to influence and undermine the policies created to address this crisis.”
At the intersessional meeting next week in Bonn, CAI and other international NGOs will be urging delegates to agree on a new, universal definition of conflict of interest and set a “stringent, transparent process” for participants in UNFCCC processes. “This process must be rigorous enough to ensure that those allowed to participate in the UNFCCC negotiations are motivated by the sole interest of protecting people and the planet, not private interests or what’s good for business,” CAI states.