Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

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Carte blanche for fracking

How the European Commission’s new advisory group is letting the shale gas industry set the agenda

The Commission is talking up its climate ambition on the road to the Paris UN climate talks. But a new briefing shows that its advisory group on shale gas is opening the back door to fracking, despite massive public opposition. 

For the full report, please click here.

The newly created “European Science and Technology Network on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Extraction” (or Network) is supposed to assess current projects, as well as recommend which technologies are appropriate and safe enough for Europe. Unfortunately for the public, the majority of its members (including those from industry, academia and other research bodies) have a clear financial stake in the expansion of fracking and are in no position to objectively assess its safety. Moreover, many have aggressively lobbied for weaker safety rules.

The Network is composed of 74 members, 14 of whom work for the European Commission. Of the 60 that do not:

  • Fewer than 10% of members are from civil society
  • More than 70% of members either represent or have financial links to the fracking industry; two-thirds of academics and research organisations involved have links to the fracking industry.
  • All five working group chairs are fracking proponents, and some have even lobbied against stronger safety rules

This conflict of interest is not only jeopardising public safety and the climate, but also citizens’ faith in the European Commission being able to put their interests before industry profit. Given the public opposition to fracking in Europe and the well-documented associated environmental problems, the European Commission should not listen to a lobby that wants to move the goalposts from asking not “if” Europe wants fracking, but “how”.

The European Commission should seriously question whether the privileged access enjoyed by companies causing climate change is conflicting with the public interest, and therefore whether the Network should be scrapped.

For the full report, please click here.

**UPDATE: SINCE PUBLISHING THE REPORT, IT HAS COME TO LIGHT THAT THERE ARE ONLY FOUR, RATHER THAN FIVE CHAIRS, AS CONOCOPHILLIPS IS NOT A CHAIR**

For the full report, please click here.The newly created “European Science and Technology Network on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Extraction” (or Network) is supposed to assess current projects, as well as recommend which technologies are appropriate and safe enough for Europe. Unfortunately for the public, the majority of its members (including those from industry, academia and other research bodies) have a clear financial stake in the expansion of fracking and are in no position to objectively assess its safety. Moreover, many have aggressively lobbied for weaker safety rules.The Network is composed of 74 members, 14 of whom work for the European Commission. Of the 60 that do not:Fewer than 10% of members are from civil societyMore than 70% of members either represent or have financial links to the fracking industry; two-thirds of academics and research organisations involved have links to the fracking industry.All five working group chairs are fracking proponents, and some have even lobbied against stronger safety rulesThis conflict of interest is not only jeopardising public safety and the climate, but also citizens’ faith in the European Commission being able to put their interests before industry profit. Given the public opposition to fracking in Europe and the well-documented associated environmental problems, the European Commission should not listen to a lobby that wants to move the goalposts from asking not “if” Europe wants fracking, but “how”.The European Commission should seriously question whether the privileged access enjoyed by companies causing climate change is conflicting with the public interest, and therefore whether the Network should be scrapped.For the full report, please click here.**UPDATE: SINCE PUBLISHING THE REPORT, IT HAS COME TO LIGHT THAT THERE ARE ONLY FOUR, RATHER THAN FIVE CHAIRS, AS CONOCOPHILLIPS IS NOT A CHAIR**
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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.

Never before has a former European Commission official been criticised as much for his post-EU career as ex-Commission president Barroso upon joining infamous US investment bank Goldman Sachs this summer. Citizens are outraged and evidence already points towards a gross violation of the EU Treaty.

Following the high-level appointment of former European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to Goldman Sachs, NGOs have launched a petition demanding stricter rules for ex-EU commissioners’ revolving door moves.

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.

 
 
 
 
 
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