Fossil CEOs Want Seat at the Climate Negotiating Table
Fossil fuel CEOs are looking for a seat at the table when the world’s governments gather in Paris in December to put the finishing touches on a global climate deal.
The news was the latest twist after six of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, with combined revenue last year of $1.4 trillion, expressed support for a price on carbon in a letter to UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
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And not all climate campaigners are enthralled with the idea.
“What these corporations are looking to do is to change the conversation” so they can “find different ways to continue to do what they’re doing, which is contributing to climate change in a very real way,” Jesse Bragg of Corporate Accountability International (CAI) told Grist.
“We need long-term solutions,” he said. “So the solution here is find ways to keep it in the ground and replace our energy needs with renewables. And any conversation about finding ways to use more natural gas and oil is a distraction from the actual solution.”
CAI and other prominent greens have petitioned the United Nations to ban polluting corporations from climate negotiations, but UN climate secretary Christiana Figueres has other ideas. “Bringing them with us has more strength than demonizing them,” she said last month.
Light notes that not all environmental organizations see the fossil companies’ involvement as a bad thing. “This is a symbolic moment, and demonstrates an important if not universal shift,” said Climate Group CEO Mark Kenber. “It helps increase the likelihood of a positive outcome at COP21 by sending a signal to the wider business community, and showing that the direction of travel is towards comprehensive and effective regimes regulating carbon emissions.”
CAI’s Bragg acknowledged that “many of the NGOs I’ve spoken with see this as a sign of them running scared, in a way.” That’s a good sign, he told Light, “because it means that this work is having an effect and creating a need for them to respond and regroup and create a strategy.”