Anglo American’s dirty energy lobby and its false climate solutions

How corporations rule
03 December 2014

Climate talks in Lima will be subject to intense lobbying by some of the biggest industrial polluters. They not only cause serious social and environmental conflicts where they extract fossil fuels, their capture of decision-making also prevents a real solution to the climate crisis.


Greenhouse gas emissions are now the highest in human history and climate change is having widespread impact on human life and natural systems 1. But when governments meet at the United Nations COP 20 (Conference of Parties) climate talks in Lima under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) they will be subject to intense lobbying by some of the biggest industrial polluters. The stakes could not be higher, as countries then head to the pivotal 2015 UNFCCC meeting in Paris, but the corporate capture of policy-making means there is an ongoing failure to address the root causes of climate change.

Instead of governments and international public institutions like the United Nations reigning in corporations that harm people and the environment they are, themselves, more and more controlled by those corporations.

In this publication Friends of the Earth International (FoEI), Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), and the Transnational Institute (TNI) expose how corporations are undermining crucial climate policies, and promoting false solutions that will allow them to profit from the climate crisis, while expanding the extraction of dirty energy. This is exemplified through the case of the British-South African company Anglo American, which this report examines from its activities at the world’s biggest open-pit coal mine in Cerrejón, in La Guajira, Colombia, all the way up to its lobbying at the UNFCCC.

The UNFCCC should be a space for states to build commitments to change the current model of production and consumption, including a binding agreement to cut fossil fuel emissions on a fair, equitable, and scientific basis, taking into account the historical responsibilities of industrialized countries and their corporations. But the climate talks, from Lima to Paris, are likely to fail once more because the UNFCCC and governments are in thrall to transnational corporations such as Anglo American, whose business model depends upon our continued consumption of dirty energy.

Under the excessive influence of corporations, the UNFCCC is not only unable to deliver concrete measures for climate justice and serve peoples’ interests, it is paving the way for corporations, mainly big and historical polluters, to build new opportunities to profit from the climate crisis. In sum, the UNFCCC has been transformed from its intended use as a democratic forum into yet another space to create corporate-friendly policies and stall progress on action for climate justice. And the reality is that even before governments arrive at the UNFCCC talks they will have been subject to intense national level lobbying from corporations that will have influenced the positions they take internationally.

Behind and beyond the growing corporate power at the UN, free trade and investment negotiations are exacerbating the dirty extraction model, as well as transferring both resources and profits to northern corporations and their governments.

This discredits the UN. In 2013, civil society walked out from the coal-sponsored Warsaw COP19 to expose developed countries’ collusion with corporate polluters blocking progress at the talks. In September 2014, as governments gathered for the UN Secretary General’s corporate Climate Summit in New York, the city’s streets were flooded with hundreds of thousands of people demanding more than the empty promises on offer.2

The COP20 in Lima is a key step towards a global climate agreement in Paris in 2015. But all signs point towards it expanding carbon markets and other false solutions. There is little hope of progressing towards a fair agreement, moving beyond voluntary and insufficient pledges of emission reductions and finance. In both Europe, Latin America, and worldwide, the increase of dirty energy extraction infrastructures, combined with the financialisation of nature, has led to ordinary people demanding real solutions to the climate crisis and an end of corporate led policy making.


1. IPCC, ‘Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report’, see:
2. The UN climate Summit was held in New York on 23 September 2014

Pages: 16