About the campaign to kick big polluters out

Today, we are facing the prospect of the destruction of life as we know it and irreversible damage to our planet due to climate change. Scientists are telling us with evermore urgency that we must act quickly to stop extracting fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This is a global problem that needs global action. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) can be a major part of the global solution that the people of the world are urgently calling for.

But the world’s largest polluters — and the governments in their pockets, like the U.S. –have prevented progress on bold climate action for far too long. The time has come to make a change. Take action to kick big polluters out of the most important climate policy negotiations.

What is the UNFCCC and what do big polluters have to do with it?

The UNFCCC is a treaty that entered into force in 1994. At that time, the global community came together, recognizing the need to act quickly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The treaty had the potential to provide a powerful mandate for all countries to set strong national climate policy. And the governments that have ratified the climate treaty (they’re called the Parties) came together in 2015 in Paris at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to create a new international agreement mandating action on climate change, called the Paris Agreement.

But the fossil fuel industry and other transnational corporations that have vested interests in maintaining business as usual quickly inserted themselves into these treaty talks and climate policy at all levels. For two decades, the world’s biggest polluters delayed, weakened, and blocked climate policy at every level. From the World Coal Association hosting a summit on “clean coal” around the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19) to Shell aggressively lobbying in the European Union for weak renewable energy goals while promoting gas, these big polluters are still peddling false solutions to protect their profits while driving the climate crisis closer to the brink. Read more about fossil fuel industry interference.

Even as Parties came together to adopt the Paris Agreement at COP21, corporations with ties to coal and gas were sponsoring the negotiations. Corporations were promoting false solutions at a giant expo in Paris. And corporations like Exxon, BP, and Shell were gaining legitimacy for their voluntary commitments on climate through the UNFCCC. As governments came together around new commitments on climate, big polluters time and time again tried to exert their influence over the process.

Indeed, Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement is an extreme outcome of corporate interest run amok. And while the fossil fuel industry uses slick PR schemes to publicly position itself as a necessary “stakeholder” in the U.N. climate negotiations, behind the scenes, it continues to spend millions of dollars to bankroll climate-change-denying U.S. politicians and undermine climate policy on the national and international levels.

Where we go from here

For the past few years, Corporate Accountability International and our allies around the world have been advancing a conflict of interest policy at the international, national, and local levels that protects climate policy from the outsized influence of the fossil fuel industry. In May 2017, for the first time, this issue took front and center at the U.N. climate treaty meetings.

Governments representing nearly 70 percent of the world’s population called for the protection of the U.N. climate talks and climate policymaking around the world from the influence of big polluters. In the coming months, we must escalate our organizing with Global South and champion Global North governments to quickly and forcefully advance conflict of interest policies at the international level to prevent the kind of manipulation and weakening of policy that we have seen for so long.

Only when our policymaking space is free from the influence of big polluters can global leaders take the bold action we need them to take.

Can this really happen? (Spoiler: Yes, but we need you)

A decade ago, Corporate Accountability International partnered closely with people, ally organizations, and governments around the world to take on another behemoth industry — Big Tobacco — in the U.N. policymaking forum. Together, we created a precedent-setting treaty mechanism that removed the tobacco industry from public health policy. The resulting global treaty on tobacco control has led the way to effective, lifesaving national and local policy.

It’s common sense. Big Tobacco has a fundamental conflict of interest when it comes to setting public health policy.  It should simply not be allowed to sit at the table.  It’s the same with big polluters and climate policy. Right now, big polluters are practically running the show — but they shouldn’t even be in the show.

During the global tobacco treaty negotiations, the U.S. proved to be an enormous obstructive force in securing a powerful, binding treaty. Only by organizing shoulder-to-shoulder with Global South allies and champion governments, and by fearlessly calling out the U.S. government’s role, were we able to move the treaty forward.

We did it once with Big Tobacco, and we can do it again with the fossil fuel industry. But Global South governments need to know that people like you are demanding an end to big polluter’s influence over climate policy. Make your voice heard. Take action now and sign the petition to kick big polluters out of climate talks.

Who is Corporate Accountability International?

We are a member-powered organization that protects human rights, public health, and the environment from corporate abuse.

Founded in 1977, the organization makes an outsized impact — as proven by its successful track record of securing lifesaving victories in the face of overwhelming power, money, and influence.

Members power the organization. You too can be part of taking on some of the world’s most powerful and abusive entities.