The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the now famous ‘COP21’, will be held from 29 November to 11 December 2015 in Paris.
This Climate Summit should, theoretically, perfect the new global agreement for after 2020. We know that at least 80 per cent of fossil fuels must remain in the ground in order for the increase in the overall global temperature to remain below two degrees. To achieve this, governments should commit to massive reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, and societies must undergo a profound energy transition by radically changing their patterns of production and consumption.
But companies and their representatives – major industrial and financial lobbies – have an entirely different agenda, and are determined to interfere in the talks in order to protect the status quo. The UN climate talks are a ‘greenwashing’ heaven: companies spend lavishly to invent dramatic examples of their stellar climate performances, to claim the most virtuous social practices, and to increase their profits.
In fact, their real goal is often even more ambitious. While pretending to fight against climate change, they promote the technological solutions they have designed and wish to finance through subsidies or through the various programmes and agencies mandated to support development, climate mitigation, and adaption to the hazards of climate change in the Global South. These ‘solutions’ include agrofuels, biotechnology and bioenergy, carbon capture and storage, carbon markets, nuclear power, and geo-engineering (see boxes throughout the report for details).
Instead of averting climate catastrophe, the COPs have increasingly been serving as exhibitions and promotional fairs for the world’s biggest environmental criminals. The 2013 Climate Summit in Warsaw reached a peak in the history of corporate climate co-optation, with the Polish Government co-hosting a parallel International Coal and Climate Summit during the same period. Organized together with the World Coal Association, the Summit called for development banks to strengthen their support to the coal industry!
This year, the Climate Summit is taking place in Paris, and the influence of multinational corporations and their lobbyists promises once again to be colossal. French companies have been preparing for COP21 for months, organizing events, trade fairs and conferences in the run up to and during COP21. Gathered together in projects like ‘Solutions COP21’ (see page 24), companies such as Engie (formerly GDF Suez), Carrefour, Veolia, Sofiprotéol and Schneider Electric – with the help of public funding – seek public visibility for private sector responses to climate change.
Even before the Summit has kicked off, polluting companies have already become major players in the future climate agreement via the ‘Agenda des Solutions’, also known as the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA). Created in 2014 by UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon, this agenda has been designed to make polluting industries – toting their technological solutions to climate change – the key partners of states in implementing their corporate ‘contributions’.
The French Government, which intends to play a “leading international role” in the birth of this historic agreement, has tried to outsource 20 per cent of the total conference funding to some of the most polluting private companies on the planet. The logos of champion polluters Engie, EDF, Renault-Nissan, Air France, BNP-Paribas, Michelin and Suez Environnement are among those that will adorn the walls of the Conference during the two weeks of the Summit.
Defending climate justice means exposing the actions of polluting companies and their lobbies to the public. This guide will propel you into the heart of the apparatus built up around the Paris Summit. It will introduce you to the anti-climate lobbyists and their false solutions, and expose the magnitude of the fossil fuel industry’s pressure on governments. It offers a window onto the extent of public subsidies to dirty energy, the multiple public-private collusions, and the numerous forms of speculation on the climate crisis.
But it is important to highlight that this exposé of the influence of dirty industry occurs in the context of resistance. Citizens and communities are battling mega-polluters and their mega-projects, and opposing the ‘land grabbing’ operations of agribusiness. Communities are breaking away from the dominant production and consumption model and coming up with their own solutions: agroecology, energy cooperatives, relocalization of production and trade, redeployment of public and community transport, local currencies, and so forth.