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ENVIRONMENT

World’s Top Polluters Are Sponsoring UN Climate Summit

March for climate change outside of the UN climate summit COP25 in Madrid, Spain. Date: 12/6/19. (Photo: Friends of the Earth International)
March for climate change outside of the UN climate summit COP25 in Madrid, Spain. Date: 12/6/19. (Photo: Friends of the Earth International)

“We have these companies completely wrapping themselves in the colors of the U.N., pretending to be green, whilst underneath the dirty reality is they’re climate criminals.”

Protestors condemned the presence of fossil fuel corporations at the Madrid Climate Summit on Saturday, accusing oil and gas groups of paying millions to sponsor the event in order to stall progress on what scientists say is an urgent need to transition to clean energy.

“We don’t think that polluters like Shell, like BP and like Chevron should be at the COP influencing the climate talks here,” Laurie van der Burg of Friends of the Earth Netherlands told DemocracyNow. “So we stood up, we covered our ears and we walked out of the room to make a point to say that Shell shouldn’t be at the COP, Chevron shouldn’t be at the COP, BP shouldn’t be at the COP. They are wrecking our climate, and if we have these polluters here, we won’t stay below 1.5 degrees.”

Madrid became host of the summit on short notice after the original summit in Chile was canceled amid mass protests. Despite being among Spain’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, Spanish energy giants Endesa and Iberdrola moved in to sponsor the conference, giving both companies prominent branding at the event and front page advertisements on national newspapers.

Critics argue the industry that caused the climate crisis and funded disinformation campaigns to spread confusion about science should not be able to dictate climate policy.

“It’s not just the biggest polluters who are using this for huge greenwashing opportunities. You see their logos all over the COP,” Pascoe Sabido, a researcher and campaigner for the Corporate Europe Observatory, told DemocracyNow. “But they are also using this to influence the talks themselves, to gain access to the negotiations through events, getting negotiations to come through events, to cocktail parties and other forms of privileged access.”

The summit brings together more than 20,000 negotiators, scientists, NGOs and journalists from around the world, giving fossil fuel groups opportunity to lobby with the most important figures in climate policy.

A similar situation played out in September, when fossil fuel executives and public officials gathered at the Morgan Library and Museum blocks away from the New York U.N. Climate Summit in a meeting organized by the industry-led Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI). Government officials also dined with fossil fuel executives ahead of the summit at Gramercy Park Hotel in New York the previous night.

Fossil fuel lobbyists have been among the most influential attendees of international climate conferences for decades, drawing criticism for attempting to “greenwash” themselves with positive PR while continuing to fight against progress.

“We have these companies completely wrapping themselves in the colors of the U.N., pretending to be green, whilst underneath the dirty reality is they’re climate criminals,” Sabido told DemocracyNow.

“We’re seeing yet again how the interests of dirty energy corporations are being put before the needs of vulnerable people and the planet,” said Hoda Baraka of 350.org. “It’s just common sense that those who are causing the climate crisis need to be kept far away from the political process meant to solve it.”

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a staff writer and assistant editor at Citizen Truth.

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