BUSI­NESS Pol­lut­ing multi­na­tion­als ‘en­joy­ing key ac­cess to cli­mate pol­i­cy­mak­ers’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE - DAVID CON­NETT

MULTI­NA­TIONAL firms such as BP and E.ON have been en­joy­ing priv­i­leged ac­cess to key Euro­pean cli­mate pol­i­cy­mak­ers, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port.

Lob­by­ists for pri­vate en­ergy firms and fos­sil-fuel in­dus­tries ac­counted for more than four out of five meet­ings held by con­tro­ver­sial EU Cli­mate and En­ergy Com­mis­sioner Miguel Cañete, and Maros Se­f­covic, vice- pres­i­dent for the EU’s En­ergy Union, in the year since they came to power.

One in three meet­ings were with BP and Ger­man- based en­ergy firm, E.ON, the main lob­by­ists with 15 meet­ings each, ac­cord­ing to Cor­po­rate Euro­pean Ob­ser­va­tory, a trans­parency group.

By con­trast, the of­fi­cials held six meet­ings with re­new­able-en­ergy as­so­ci­a­tions and nei­ther recorded a sin­gle meet­ing with an ex­clu­sively re­new­able en­ergy firm.

Crit­ics claim the lev­els of ac­cess en­joyed by the fos­sil­fuel industry helps ex­plain why the EU is putting for­ward “timid and in­suf­fi­cient poli­cies” that mainly ben­e­fit th­ese firms ahead of im­por­tant cli­mate ne­go­ti­a­tions in Paris this month.

Belen Balanya said: “This data is ex­tremely wor­ry­ing given the sen­si­tive top­ics th­ese com­mis­sion­ers have been in charge of over the past year. Industry-friendly poli­cies on car emis­sions, en­ergy union, the Emis­sions Trad­ing Scheme, and the up­com­ing Paris cli­mate ne­go­ti­a­tions clearly re­flect the dis­turb­ing level of ac­cess to de­ci­sion­mak­ers en­joyed by dirty en­ergy. While the sci­ence says we must ur­gently cut green­house gas emis­sions, boost re­new­ables, and dra­mat­i­cally in­crease en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, the com­mis­sion is mov­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion.”

The re­port says nei­ther of­fi­cial is close to meet­ing EC Pres­i­dent Claude Juncker’s prom­ise for “bal­ance and rep­re­sen­ta­tive­ness” in the peo­ple and groups they meet.

“Civil so­ci­ety groups such as NGOs and trade unions were met far more of­ten in larger groups than busi­ness groups, who en­joyed more one-to-one con­tact with the com­mis­sion’s high­est level of­fi­cials,” Balanya said. “They should be re­con­sid­er­ing whether it is ap­pro­pri­ate at all to meet the most pol­lut­ing com­pa­nies to dis­cuss cli­mate and en­ergy poli­cies. Those caus­ing the prob­lem should not be de­cid­ing how we fix it.”

The re­port calls for the preven­tion of fos­sil- fuel firms in­flu­enc­ing cli­mate and en­ergy pol­icy in the same way tobacco firms were ex­cluded from health pol­icy.

A spokes­woman for the Cli­mate and En­ergy Com­mis­sioner de­clined to com­ment.

Cañete, a former Span­ish politi­cian, is a con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure with fam­ily ties to the oil industry. As Spain’s former En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter, he brought frack­ing un­der na­tional con­trol to by­pass re­gional frack­ing bans, crit­ics say. – The In­de­pen­dent

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