350.org’s Fossil Fuel Watch project
On Wednesday, May 13th, 350 Australia launched a new project, “Fossil Fuel Watch.”
The Fossil Fuel Watch website – www.fossilfuel.watch – outlines each member of the NCCC and its associated bodies, and their existing and past links to the fossil fuel industry. It also contains an interactive list of all of the concessions being sought by the fossil fuel industry during the Covid-19 crisis in the form of financial support, changes to regulation and project-level support.
The website is the first step in a national campaign to bring greater transparency to the Government’s Covid-19 response to ensure Australia emerges as a more just society through the Covid-19 recovery.
Summary of key points
Our research clearly demonstrates that the fossil fuel sector and its backers – industry lobby groups, politicians and the conservative media – are using the Covid-19 pandemic to entrench their power.
The fossil fuel industry and their political allies have been on the front foot calling for 38 individual policy changes or requests for project-specific support to further their agenda during the Covid-19 crisis.
The range of concessions and sweet deals includes 16 requests to slash environmental or corporate regulation, 11 requests for tax cuts and financial concessions, and 13 instances of requests to fast-track project assessments.
As of May 12, 24 (63%) of these demands have been either enacted or agreed to by members of government.
The demands for support from the fossil fuel lobby range from company tax cuts, to slashing Howard Government-era environmental legislation, support for import gas terminals and exploration projects, and cuts to mine workers pay and conditions.
Of the 15 commissioners and working group members of the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC), seven have strong links to the fossil fuel industry, and particularly the gas industry.
Recent updates to the ASX show that NCCC Commissioners have recently and may still hold significant shareholdings in companies with interests in oil and gas. Some of these companies have also made recent political donations.
There is currently a concerning lack of transparency and accountability of the NCCC, including how potential conflicts of interests are being managed.
350.org Australia is making no suggestion of any wrongdoing by any members of the NCCC or its associated bodies.
Quotes and media contact
Quotes are attributable to Lucy Manne, CEO of 350.org Australia:
“It is rank opportunism for the fossil fuel lobby to call for slashing of corporate taxes and important environmental protections under the cover of Covid-19.
“You don’t solve one crisis by fueling another – it’s critical that Australia follows the lead of nations around the world who are putting their support behind a fair and clean recovery that puts people first, not fossil fuel executives.
“We are calling on the Government to commit to putting people first during the economic recovery, not corporate executives – and that means backing industries of the future that will create more jobs, a cleaner energy system, and address the huge challenges of climate change and Covid-19 at the same time.
“Our investigations reveal that the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission membership is stacked with fossil fuel company executives and gas ‘kingmakers’ whose vision for Australia is framed by pipelines and fracking wells, which will lead to runaway climate change.
“We are calling for three crucial measures to be put in place to ensure the community can have faith in the NCCC: a transparent conflict of interest register and process for managing conflicts of interest; fairer representation of the Australian community; and full transparency of operations of the NCCC and its recommendations to Government.
“The NCCC was hand-picked by Prime Minister Morrison at the peak of the crisis with no accountability to the Australian people, no transparency, and no commitment to care for communities or our climate.
“Australians deserve better than to be fed a short-sighted pro-gas agenda, whilst they are trying to get through a global pandemic.”
For further information and interviews:
CEO, 350.org Australia
0417 387 516