Open letter: EU must back efforts to tackle vested interests at UN climate talks

Almost 100 groups call on EU to stop protecting fossil fuel interests at negotiations

As environment ministers from EU member states meet in Bulgaria to discuss the upcoming UN climate negotiations, 93 civil society organisations have written to the EU’s lead negotiator, Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete. They call on him to support efforts tackling vested interests at the UN climate talks.

The EU has so far continued to align itself with historic polluters like the USA and Australia, blocking progress towards a conflict of interest policy which could protect the UN climate talks from the harmful influence of fossil fuel corporations and their lobbyists, who have been delaying and weakening progress on effective climate action. The issue will be discussed again at the UN climate negotiations taking place from 30 April in Bonn, Germany. Will EU Commissioner Cañete side with the European Parliament, which has called for a conflict of interest policy for the UN talks, or will he stick to the line of the likes of US President Trump and the same big oil, gas and coal corporations who are profiting from destroying the climate?

Below the letter sent to European Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete and European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič by 93 environmental and civil society organisations:

To: European Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete

Cc: European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič

Cc: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

Dear Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete

Subject: EU must support tackling vested interests at UN climate talks

For the world to reach the necessary ambition to achieve our climate commitments under the Paris Agreement, which would keep average global temperature rises well below 2°C and even 1.5°C, the EU, led by the European Commission, must start supporting efforts to tackle vested interests within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

We, 93 civil society organisations working in Brussels and in countries affected by EU climate policies, are therefore deeply concerned that the same polluting corporations whose actions largely contribute to climate change - chief among them fossil fuel companies and their lobby groups - are using their involvement in the UNFCCC talks to delay action and hold back the needed ambition.[1] We are also concerned at the frequent privileged access they enjoy.

You have a great deal of responsibility in deciding whether the EU aligns itself with the interests of polluters or all those working for a just transformation of our energy system and economy. We call on you to show leadership and to ensure the integrity of the UNFCCC, one of the only democratic international spaces where climate change can be addressed, by supporting an effective conflict of interest policy at the upcoming UNFCCC negotiations this April-May in Bonn.

For the past two years, countries representing nearly 70 per cent of the world’s population have consistently called upon the UNFCCC to address this problem, calling for the adoption of a definition of a conflict of interest as well as the introduction of a rigorous conflict of interest policy framework. They have been joined by numerous civil society organisations in the global South and North representing youth, indigenous people, women, and those on the frontlines of climate change.[2]

All recognise the importance of increasing engagement with ‘non-party stakeholders’, but an effective conflict of interest policy would do so without undermining strong climate action. Such an approach is commonplace and was also adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (UNFCTC), which the European Commission is a signatory of, in order to protect public health policymaking from the vested interests of the tobacco industry.[3]

The European Parliament passed a resolution in October 2017 calling for “the issue of vested or conflicting interests be addressed” and for “guidelines”,[4] but the European Union has continued to block progress, alongside historic polluters like the USA and Australia.

We call on you to listen to the European Parliament, to align yourself with those governments fighting for greater ambition on behalf of populations already feeling the impact, and not with President Trump and the same Big Oil, Gas and Coal corporations who are profiting from destroying the climate.

Yours sincerely,

Pascoe Sabido, Researcher, Corporate Europe Observatory

Jeremy Wates, Secretary General, European Environment Bureau

Nina Renshaw, Secretary General, European Public Health Alliance

Jagoda Munic, Director, Friends of the Earth Europe

Jorgo Riss, Director, Greenpeace European Unit

On behalf of:


350 New Orleans

Abibiman Foundation



Alternative Information Development Centre

Amigos de la Tierra

Amigos del Río San Rodrigo, A.C.

Amis de la Terre France/Friends of the Earth France

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development

Asociația România Fără Ei

Associació de Micropobles de Catalunya

Athens County (Ohio, U.S.A) Fracking Action Network

Attac France

Austrian Sustainable Mobility


Carbon Market Watch

CARE International – Climate Change and Resilience Platform (CCRP)

Center for ecology and energy


Chair Keep Kirdford and Wisborough Green, KKWG

Change Partnership

Clacks Against Unconventional Gas Extraction

Clark Strategic Partners



Collectif Arcois pour la Planète

Collectif Causse Méjean – Gaz de Schiste NON !

Collectif Stop GHRM 38 France

Concerned Citizens against Climate Change

Coordination Office of the Austrian Bishop’s Conference for International Development and Mission (KOO)

Corner House

Corporate Accountability

Debt Observatory in Globalisation – ODG

East Kent Against Fracking (EKAF)


Ecologistas en Acción


Energy Poverty Research initiative


European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA)

FIAN Sweden

Fís Nua


Food & Water Europe

Food & Water Watch

Frack Free Harrogate District

Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Friends of the Earth International

Friends of the Earth US


Green Liberty



Jamaa Resource Initiatives

Jordens Vänner/Friends of the Earth Sweden

Keep Ireland Fracking Free

Leave it in the Ground Initiative (LINGO)

Limity jsme my

Nature Friends Greece

Naturfreunde Internationale

NOAH - Friends of the Earth Denmark

North American Climate, Conservation and Environment(NACCE)

Notre affaire à tous

Oil Change International

Ökosoziales Studierendenforum Österreich

Pacific Survival Pacific

People for a Healthy Environment

RIPESS EU - Solidarity Economy Europe

Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund

SEE Change Net Foundation

Siluh Records

Südwind, Austria

Swiss Youth for Climate

System Change, not Climate Change! Austria

The Climate Justice Project (USA)

The Gastivists

Third World Network

Transition Edinburgh

Transnational Institute

UK Youth Climate Coalition

Umwelt Management Austria/Forum Wissenschaft & Umwelt


White Rabbit Grove RDNA

Xarxa per la sobirania energètica

Xun Biosphere Project

ZERO – Associação Sistema Terrestre Sustentável

[1] For concrete examples, please see

[2] Please see the UNFCCC portal for different countries’ and stakeholders’ submissions, such as the African Group of Negotiators:

[3] For more information on the UNFCTC and its conflict of interest policy, please see:

[4] Please see the European Parliament’s resolution here:

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