The World Health Organization bans tobacco lobbyists, but the UNFCCC has no such protections
Lima, Peru — Climate activists presented the UNFCCC Secretariat today with over 53,000 signatures calling for fossil fuel corporations and their lobbyists to be banned from the UN Climate Talks.
“This process needs to hear the voices of the people, not polluters,” said Hoda Baraka, Global Communications Manager for 350.org, an international climate campaign that collected the signatures.
“The fossil fuel industry is actively lobbying against climate action and standing in the way of progress. When you’re trying to burn the table down, you don’t deserve a seat at it.”
Many Australians added their voice to the action, after it became known that some of Australia’s biggest miners and polluters like BHP Billiton are present at the talks at Lima.
“There are serious questions to be asked about whether companies like BHP formed part of the formal Australian delegation and exactly what role they played in the talks, and whether they were advising the Australian Government in any capacity?” Australians care deeply about climate change and would be shocked to hear that our biggest fossil fuel companies are wandering the halls of the Lima talks right alongside our Foreign Minister and Trade Minister,” s CEO 350.org Australia.
The petition should add momentum to a much broader effort underway by a growing coalition of groups who are looking to combat fossil fuel industry influence and corporate capture at the national, as well as level.
“Here in Lima, we’re seeing how the interests of rich countries and their dirty energy corporations are put before the needs of vulnerable people and the planet,” said Pascoe Sabido, Researcher and Campaigner at Corporate Europe Observatory.
“It’s just common sense that those who are causing the crisis should be kept as far away from solving it as possible. If the UN talks are going to deliver fair and ambitious actions on climate change, we need to see both national and international actions to end the cosy relationship between polluters and our governments.”
Other negotiations provide examples for how the UNFCCC could approach restricting industry influence. The World Health Organization, for instance, has banned the tobacco industry from tobacco control talks and requires countries to disclose any contact with industry lobbyists. The UNFCCC has no such protections or requirements.
“We have kept abusive industries out of lifesaving policymaking before, and we must do it again. Delegates must look to the precedent set by the global tobacco treaty, which bars the tobacco industry from having a role in public policymaking,” said Patti Lynn, managing director at Corporate Accountability International.
“Giving a seat at the table to the very industries that are fueling this crisis and profiting from the talks’ failure is akin to letting the fox guard the hen house. Delegates must resolve to show Big Energy the door before next year’s meetings in Paris—the future of our planet depends on it.”
Activists have repeatedly protested fossil fuel industry presence at the climate talks. Last year, in Poland, activists rallied outside a World Coal Industry that was planned in conjunction with the talks. Last week, at the talks here in Lima, dozens protested outside of an anti-fossil fuel divestment panel featuring speakers from Shell and the World Coal Association.
350.org collected the petition signatures over the last week, with new signatures coming in nearly every minute on Friday as the climate talks continued.
“In the face of the latest climate disaster in the Philippines, allowing the fossil fuel industry to put a corporate stranglehold on the climate talks in unacceptable,” 350.org Southeast Asia Co-Coordinator Zeph Rephollo wrote in an email blast on December 9th. “It’s time to kick big polluters out and make the climate talks fossil free.”
The petitions signatures build on a letter issued last year by over 75 organizations calling on the UNFCCC Secretariat to ban fossil fuel lobbyists from the talks.
“At risk are both our climate and the integrity of the UNFCCC as a multilateral process to tackle climate change,” the organizations wrote.
“Therefore there is an urgent need for rules to govern the relationship between the UNFCCC and the fossil fuel industry, including obligations for COP Presidents: rules that would ensure the current damaging situation is avoided, by ending the undue access and influence of polluting businesses and industries, recognising that their direct commercial interests are fundamentally and irreconcilably in conflict with the urgent need for an equitable and ambitious climate policy.”