Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

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Ending the affair between polluters and politicians

They meet at birthday parties, over breakfast meetings, during cocktail receptions; so just how close are Europe’s dirtiest industries to senior politicians and regulators? And what influence is this lobbying having on the EU’s official climate change policy? These are the kind of questions we need to be asking as leaders from the 28 EU member states try to reach agreement on Europe’s climate targets for 2030. This scrutiny is particularly urgent because – as this privileged access might imply – these industries appear to have been extremely successful at watering down EU climate and energy legislation.

For the past 18 months the European Commission has been working on climate policy proposals for 2030 (a follow-on from the 2020 climate and energy targets), which will determine how the EU responds to the worsening climate crisis. The unprecedented floods in the UK and the rise in food prices from crop failures due to extreme weather are just two of the latest sharp reminders why the EU must act decisively on climate change and end its dependence on fossil fuels.

But fossil fuel companies and heavy industry have argued relentlessly against ambitious proposals. They’ve mounted a massive lobby effort to convince the EU’s most senior politicians that ‘green’ legislation can’t be allowed in times of economic crisis. As we’ll see below, this argument is entirely disingenuous, harming the economy as well as the environment. In maintaining the status quo, polluting industry protects short-term profits and continues business-as-usual, no matter what the cost to EU citizens.

Disappointingly, politicians are giving them what they want. The Commission’s January 22 proposals for the 2030 climate and energy package recommend a 40% emissions reduction target1. According to Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, this target means: “we will by 2030 have reneged on our international commitments to limit global warming to 2°C”2. In other words we have a very high chance of crossing – in the Commission’s own terms – “devastating”3 global warming thresholds. The proposals also sideline energy efficiency and renewables, despite clear evidence from Commission research4 that these are the best options to cut costs, create jobs and reduce energy imports.

So what has gone wrong? How has the industry lobby been so successful in its aims to dilute climate action?

Download the full report.

Read the press release.

They meet at birthday parties, over breakfast meetings, during cocktail receptions; so just how close are Europe’s dirtiest industries to senior politicians and regulators? And what influence is this lobbying having on the EU’s official climate change policy? These are the kind of questions we need to be asking as leaders from the 28 EU member states try to reach agreement on Europe’s climate targets for 2030. This scrutiny is particularly urgent because – as this privileged access might imply – these industries appear to have been extremely successful at watering down EU climate and energy legislation.For the past 18 months the European Commission has been working on climate policy proposals for 2030 (a follow-on from the 2020 climate and energy targets), which will determine how the EU responds to the worsening climate crisis. The unprecedented floods in the UK and the rise in food prices from crop failures due to extreme weather are just two of the latest sharp reminders why the EU must act decisively on climate change and end its dependence on fossil fuels.But fossil fuel companies and heavy industry have argued relentlessly against ambitious proposals. They’ve mounted a massive lobby effort to convince the EU’s most senior politicians that ‘green’ legislation can’t be allowed in times of economic crisis. As we’ll see below, this argument is entirely disingenuous, harming the economy as well as the environment. In maintaining the status quo, polluting industry protects short-term profits and continues business-as-usual, no matter what the cost to EU citizens.Disappointingly, politicians are giving them what they want. The Commission’s January 22 proposals for the 2030 climate and energy package recommend a 40% emissions reduction target1. According to Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, this target means: “we will by 2030 have reneged on our international commitments to limit global warming to 2°C”2. In other words we have a very high chance of crossing – in the Commission’s own terms – “devastating”3 global warming thresholds. The proposals also sideline energy efficiency and renewables, despite clear evidence from Commission research4 that these are the best options to cut costs, create jobs and reduce energy imports.So what has gone wrong? How has the industry lobby been so successful in its aims to dilute climate action?Download the full report.Read the press release. 1. European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - a policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030, January 2014, http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/2030/docs/com_2014_15_en.pdf 2. Kevin Anderson, Open Letter to the EU Commission president about the unscientific framing of its 2030 decarbonisation target, http://kevinanderson.info/blog/open-letter-to-the-eu-commission-presiden... 3. Submission by Lithuania and the European Commission of behalf of the European Union and its member states for COP19, the 19th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC. Vilnius, 16 September 2013 Subject: The scope, design and structure of the 2015 agreement. 4. European Commission: Impact assessment accompanying the communication a policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 up to 2030, January 2014 http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:52014SC0015:...
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It's almost six months since EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete claimed to have negotiated an historic global deal to tackle climate change at COP21in Paris. The 3 May also marked a year and a half of Cañete being in the job. However, he and his his boss, Vice President of the Commission Maros Šefčovič, continue to give privileged access to fossil fuel players trashing the climate, who have enjoyed eight meetings to every one involving renewable energy or energy efficiency interests since the Paris deal was signed. Rather than a change of direction, it's business as usual for the European Commission following the Paris Agreement, which is great news for Big Energy but a disaster for those serious about tackling climate change.

In the middle of May over 4000 people from all over Europe gathered in the Lusatia region in Eastern Germany. The plan? To block a Vattenfall-owned opencast lignite mine.

In light of the ITRE Opinion and forthcoming discussion on the proposed Directive to reform the Emissions Trading System (and “enhance cost-effective emission reductions and low-carbon investments”), CEO offers comments. 

Ultimately, revisions of this sort are nowhere near enough. The new ETS Directive requires some "damage limitation." But it is also a time to reflect on the need to move beyond emissions trading at the heart of EU climate policy. There are many ways to achieve this: http://corporateeurope.org/climate-and-energy/2014/01/life-beyond-emissi...

A revised Emissions Trading Directive is like red meat for the hungry pack of lobbyists that work the corridors of Brussels’ political institutions. Even minor differences in how pollution permits are handed out can result in profits or savings of millions of euros to big polluters.

A few weeks after the May coup against Dilma Rousseff by conservative parties backed by the country's largest corporations, Brazil's “interim” government, led by Michel Temer, signed an emergency loan to the State of Rio de Janeiro to help finance infrastructure for the 2016 Olympics. The bailout was conditional to selling off the State's public water supply and sanitation company, the Companhia Estadual de Águas e Esgotos (Cedae). 

When we interviewed City Councillor and chair of Rio’s Special Committee on the Water Crisis Renato Cinco, in December 2015, he was already warning against such privatisation threats and provided important background information on the water situation in Rio.

Corporate Europe Observatory's new report 'A spoonful of sugar' illustrates how the sugar lobby undermines existing laws and fights off much-needed measures that are vital for tackling Europe’s looming obesity crisis.

José Manuel Barroso's move to Goldman Sachs has catapulted the EU’s revolving door problem onto the political agenda. It is symbolic of the excessive corporate influence at the highest levels of the EU.

Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth and LobbyControl today wrote to Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, calling on him to investigate Angelika Nieber MEP over a possible conflict of interest.

 
 
 
 
 
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The corporate lobby tour