BASF EU2024BE event

Cartoon by @CartoonRalph

Corporate capture won’t solve environmental crises

An open letter to Belgian PM De Croo from CSOs

As Prime Minister De Croo and President von der Leyen hobnob with the leaders of big business at BASF Antwerp, more than 70 NGOs have demanded an end to privileged access for polluting industries and ambitious action on the toxic pollution, biodiversity, and climate crises. 

Read the open letter below, also available in Français - Português - Español - Български

Read our EU Observer op ed here and our Euronews op ed here.

Dear Prime Minister De Croo,

We are appalled that today the Belgian Presidency of the EU is organising, alongside the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) and its Belgian industry member Essenscia, a closed event for chemical and other intensive industrial energy users and high-level political leaders at BASF’s chemicals plant in Antwerp.

By overseeing and participating in this event you have failed to recognise the culpability of the corporate interests attending in contributing to the climate, toxic pollution, and biodiversity crises which pose a tremendous risk to planetary boundaries and a death threat to communities around the world. These crises are a result of decades of irresponsible corporate decision-making that has insisted on producing and using hazardous substances and burning fossil fuels for profit. 

In the past five years, BASF, other chemical corporations and intensive energy users, and their lobby groups, have waged a huge lobby campaign in Brussels and across Europe to undermine and destroy ambitious regulations promised by the von der Leyen Commission. The goals of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and the Farm to Fork strategy to restrict hazardous chemicals in consumer and agricultural uses in the EU, as well as to prevent the export of banned substances, including chemicals and pesticides, have faded away. Meanwhile industry has also secured massive support for new fossil fuel infrastructure and for false solutions to the climate crisis such as hydrogen, carbon capture, and offsets. 

Industry has a long history of crying wolf and exaggerating the consequences of progressive green policies. And, in a big year for elections in Belgium and across the EU, too many politicians are falling for the rhetoric that there should be a “pause” in new environmental rules and that net zero is somehow as good as real zero. Politicians have a responsibility to show genuine leadership rather than following the latest greed-driven, populist, scaremongering.

But rather than spearheading an approach to stand up to these lobbies and reverse these trends, instead today you are rewarding big polluting industries with privileged access to high-level decision-makers and the expectation of even more political and policy support.

This event is an insult to communities in Flanders, not least those living with PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ pollution from the 3M plant in Antwerp; in Wallonia; and across the rest of the EU and beyond; who are currently confronting the reality of the industry-generated toxic pollution crisis in terms of their personal health and that of their local biodiversity, air, water, and soils.

This event with its emphasis on industry’s “business case” and even a “European Industrial Deal” is entirely wrong-headed, and sits at odds with your Presidency’s promise of “decisive and holistic action” to tackle the climate, biodiversity, and pollution crises. It puts big business in the driving seat to promote its agenda of avoiding legislation, demanding public subsidy, and pushing a corporate greenwashed, deeply-flawed 'net zero' approach.

This event, and the political agenda it represents, should not be going ahead. 

We urge you and all other political leaders attending to stop providing such privileged access to industries that are known for their harmful products and practices, as well as for their lobbying against action for healthier communities, resilient ecosystems, and genuine carbon reduction. 

We implore you to prioritise the protection of citizens and environments suffering from chemical, pesticide, and fossil fuel pollution, and to fight for an ambitious implementation of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, the Farm to Fork strategy, and action to ensure that big polluters can no longer evade responsibility for the climate crisis.  

Signed by:

  • Arnika - Toxics and Waste Programme
  • Association For Promotion Sustainable Development ,
  • Association of Ethical Shareholders Germany
  • Aurelia Stiftung
  • Bond Beter Leefmilieu
  • Break Free From Plastic Europe,
  • Broederlijk Delen
  • Canopea
  • Child Rights International Network (CRIN)
  • CIEL
  • ClientEarth
  • Climate Express
  • Climaxi
  • Corporate Europe Observatory
  • Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V.
  • Eco Hvar
  • Ecologistas en Acción
  • Ecology without borders foundation
  • EEB European Environmental Bureau
  • Entraide et Fraternité
  • EnvMed Network - Europan Network for Environmental Medicine
  • Euro Coop
  • Exit Plastik Alliance
  • Foodwatch International
  • Foundation for the protection of Biodiversity in Bulgaria
  • Friends of the Earth Europe
  • Générations Futures
  • GLOBAL 2000 Austria
  • GMWatch
  • Greenpeace Belgique
  • Grondrecht
  • Grootouders voor het Klimaat
  • Hamraah Foundation
  • Health & Environment Alliance (HEAL)
  • Health and Environment Justice Support (HEJSupport)
  • Hogar sin Tóxicos
  • Humundi
  • IndyAct
  • Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Europe
  • Isde, International Society of Doctors for Environment
  • Klimaatcoalitie Coalition Climat
  • La Grande Puissance de Dieu
  • Les Amis de la Terre – Belgique
  • LobbyControl
  • Muchi Children's Home
  • Natagora
  • Nature & Progrès
  • Navdanya International
  • Observatoire du principe pollueur-payeur
  • Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe
  • Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Germany
  • Pesticide Action Network in Mexico (RAPAM)
  • Pesticide Action Network Netherlands
  • Plastic Change
  • Plastic Soup Foundation
  • Plough Back The Fruits
  • Polish Zero Waste Association
  • Race for Water
  • Recycling Netwerk Benelux
  • Société Scientifique de Médecine Générale (SSMG)
  • SOS Faim
  • Stichting Mission Lanka
  • The Good Lobby
  • TROCA - Plataforma por um Comércio Internacional Justo
  • Via Pontica Foundation
  • WeMove Europe
  • Women Engage for a Common Future – WECF
  • Women on Farms Project, South Africa
  • ZERO - Association for the Sustainability of the Earth System
  • 11 march movement

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