June 08, 2015
A new report by the NGO Corporate Accountability International says four of the leading sponsors of the Paris climate summit are collectively responsible for over 200 megatonnes of annual carbon dioxide emissions worldwide.
The report, Fueling the Fire – The corporate sponsors bankrolling COP21, says European energy giants sponsoring the summit include Engie (formerly known as GDF Suez), EDF, Suez Environment and BNP Paribas. Collectively, the four firms own all or part of 46 coal-fired power plants around the world, including in South Asia. They have investments in the controversial Tata Mundra coal-fired power plant in Gujarat. The four firms also have investments in exploration of oil sands in Canada, hydraulic fracturing in Britain and more than €30 billion invested in the French coal industry. All this leads to over 200 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions a year, the NGO has calculated.
Patti Lynn, Executive Director of Corporate Accountability International, said the decision to allow these firms to sponsor the conference is “akin to hiring a fox to guard a hen house”.
Apart from this, the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative – a group of 10 CEOs of global energy companies – has made a joint declaration of support for the COP21 process. The group includes the oil giant Shell, which has in the past opposed the market deployment of energy produced from renewable sources across Europe. Earlier this year, Exxon Mobil, another member of the group, was accused of suppressing knowledge of its role in contributing to climate change for the past 30 years.
Fossil fuel subsidies
Europe is being lauded for its increasing divestment of fossil fuels. But this state of affairs concerning the major users of fossil fuels, particularly in Europe, has spillover effects on developing countries, where many of these companies have operations. Fossil fuel subsidies are very much a part of the energy policies of most developing countries. Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and Venezuela spend at least twice as much on fossil fuel subsidies as on public health.
Pakistan, which is dependent on oil imports, aims to reduce this through the using coal based energy. The recent China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will see Chinese banks and state-run companies like Power Construction Corp of China Ltd financing two coal-fired power projects in Pakistan worth US$4.15 billion.
The NGO report calls for future climate policymaking to be free of corporate interests, especially from those firms with an interest in fossil fuels. It points out that big tobacco companies have been kept out of health conferences for over a decade.
Anam Zeb works as a coordinator for disaster risk reduction with World Vision.