Out Of Cop21: Corporate Influence Is Undermining Climate Progress

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Above: No coal finance  from the Kiko Network.

In a desperate bid to remain relevant in a world on the clean energy transition, the world’s largest polluters are peddling misleading fossil fuel demand scenarios, according to a new report from Carbon Tracker. Fossil companies have put on a dog and pony show recently about being part of the solution to climate change recently, but a report from InfluenceMap shows they have no real intention to walk the talk towards one.

James Leaton of Carbon Tracker said: “We have seen in recent weeks how the fossil fuel sector has misled consumers and investors about emissions — the Volkswagen scandal being a case in point — and deliberately acted against climate science for decades, judging from the recent Exxon expose. Why should investors accept their claims about future coal and oil demand when they clearly don’t stack up with technology and policy developments?”

Polluting firms with fake non-solutions to the climate crisis are no doubt happy to have their brands associated with climate action through COP21 sponsorship, but there is a growing awareness that corporate influence is undermining climate policy progress, and Corporate Accountability International is calling for fossils to be kicked out of the UNFCCC negotiations.

According to Faith Birol, executive direcotor of the International Energy Agency, “The energy industry needs a strong and clear signal from the Paris climate summit. Failing to send this signal will push energy investments in the wrong direction, locking in unsustainable energy infrastructure for decades.”

Corporate Accountability International’s Jesse Bragg explained, “Around the globe people are calling for action now. We don’t have time to waste; governments must act now. There are too many lives at risk today to leave tomorrow up to the climate offenders that are driving the problem.” 

Fortunes are fading as divestment shines light on stranded assets to be, more coal plants are being cancelled than built, and a perfect storm of market volatility, decline, and concerns about climate change, the environment and health is preparing to break. Coal companies are staring into the abyss of bankruptcy, with environmentalists ready to acquire and shut down their businesses. Governments are following suit, with the US, France and the UK leading the G7 charge away from coal.

As the gap between the firms’ branding, behaviour, and the damage they cause ever clearer, their logos may be on the COP21 pavilions, but the writing is certainly on the wall for fossils.

  • Credibility on climate action cannot be bought with petrodollars. Since fossil fuel firms’ business relies on selling a product that wrecks the global climate, there is no reason to believe they would be interested in protecting that climate instead. Sponsoring UNFCCC meetings and declaring support for the already dangerously high 2DegC guardrail of average global warming is little more than greenwashing rhetoric. Big polluters are the problem, and should not be at the table when leaders agree the way forward towards a solution this December.
  • Fossil fuel firms are scrambling to pretend they are relevant as the world tries to recover from the mess their products have created. Big oil, gas and coal companies are so far in denial about shrinking demand they are betting trillions on nothing changing, when rapid advances in technology, increasingly cheap renewable energy, slower economic growth and lower than expected population rise – not to mention the decarbonisation pledges made by 150 countries – could all dampen fossil fuel demand significantly.

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