By Agbonkhese Oboh
Climate justice groups have said it is inevitable that some of the partners, the big polluters, in the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference, UNFCCC (COP24) in Poland, would influence talks and so should have been left out of the meeting.
Days before the conference began in Katowice, the COP Presidency had announced that a number of the meeting’s corporate partners would be from the coal, gas and fossil fuel financing industries.
However, climate justice groups, including Corporate Accountability, Friends of the Earth International, Corporate Europe Observatory and Corporate Accountability, have said the fossil fuel industry’s overbearing presence through trade and other groups was undermining the talks and promoting false solutions to the climate crisis.
In what they branded as “green facade,” the groups noted that the slogan for the climate talks— Black to Green— effectively captures the fact that Big Polluter-sponsors have wrapped themselves in green branding while their core business digs up and burns coal, oil and gas, which is incompatible with the Paris Agreement and a liveable planet.
A statement by Jesse Bragg, Media Director, Corporate Accountability, and Philip Jakpor, Head, Media & Campaign, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, listed the sponsors to include Tauron Polska Energia S.A, Poland’s second biggest electricity generator and supplier from coal and gas; JSW, one of the largest tar producers in Europe; Polska Grupa Energetyczna, the largest energy sector company, and PZU, the lead insurer of the Polish coal sector.
Others are PKO Bank, one of the largest fossil fuels financier; PGNiG, leading gas corporation, Grupa LOTOS S.A, which is into extraction and processing of crude oil, and PKN Orden, the largest oil conglomerate and petrol retailer in Poland.
Sriram Madhusoodanan, Deputy Campaigns Director at Corporate Accountability, said: “The fact that the negotiations charged with solving the global climate crisis are being bankrolled by these firms is absolutely unacceptable. Big polluter-sponsors are not only able to use sponsorship to greenwash their images, but also sponsorship will likely buy them access to the talks themselves— a massive conflict of interest.
“It is like a gun control policy meeting being paid for by the National Rifle Association or public health talks bankrolled by Big Tobacco.
“Such sponsorship raises serious questions about what access and influence sponsorship buys and could risk calling into question the legitimacy of these talks before they even begin. Big Polluters have no place bankrolling or participating in the UN climate talks. Period.
“It is precisely for this reason that a global movement has issued the People’s Demands and specifically called for governments to protect the talks from Big Polluter interference.”
For Akinbode Oluwafemi of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, “the fact that the corporate sponsors of the talks are from the same polluting industry responsible for the climate crisis, leaves room for doubt on the directions the talks will go.
“The People’s Demands are explicit on the need to exclude Big Polluters from the discussions. No other way will lead to pro-people outcomes.”