Big Energy cozies up to EU climate change officials – report

© Francisco Bonilla
Big Energy lobbyists from firms like BP dominate contact with European Union climate and energy officials, who haven’t met with a single renewable energy firm since last November, a new report shows.

Published by transparency group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), the report claims private companies with a vested interest in the sale of fossil fuels enjoy privileged access to European Union (EU) climate policymakers.

One in three meetings were with oil giant BP and German-based energy company E.ON, while three quarters of all meetings held by EU climate and energy officials were with fossil fuel companies generally.

In contrast, policymakers did not meet with a single renewable energy firm and only held six meetings with renewable energy associations.

CEO used data from the European Commission itself to analyze the influence of corporate lobbyists on the controversial Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Cañete and Vice-President of the EU Energy Union Maros Sefcovic – both of whom came to office November 1, 2014.

Critics argue Cañete has a conflict of interest given his family’s large investments in oil companies and his own history of having twice chaired oil firms.

Speaking to RT, Chris Garrard, of the campaign group ‘BP or not BP?’ said the revelation was further evidence of the British oil giant’s “cynical strategy to protect its profits.

BP has a business plan that involves extracting more oil than we can afford to burn if we’re to have any chance of avoiding runaway climate change. But as this report shows, BP has a cynical strategy to protect its profits,” he said.

Behind closed doors, it busily derails crucial climate legislation through its privileged access to top policy makers, such as Miguel Cañete.”

At the same time, BP sponsors some of our top galleries and museums in order to persuade the public it is responsible. If we are to shut out companies like BP from our policy-making spaces, we also need to shut them out of our cultural spaces and deny them any social legitimacy. We did it with tobacco and now we must do it with oil.”

The CEO report says oil companies should be banned from influencing climate and energy policy in the same way tobacco firms were excluded from health policy.

CEO Researcher and Campaigner Belén Balanyá said the “industry-friendly” policies being adopted by the EU are failing to tackle climate change.

This data is extremely worrying given the sensitive topics these commissioners have been in charge of over the past year. Industry-friendly policies on car emissions, energy union, the Emissions Trading Scheme, and the upcoming Paris climate negotiations clearly reflect the disturbing level of access to decision-makers enjoyed by dirty energy.

While the science says we must urgently cut greenhouse gas emissions, boost renewables, and dramatically increase energy efficiency, the commission is moving in the opposite direction,” Balanyá said.