More than 224,000 call on UNFCCC to kick big polluters out of climate policy

More than 224,000 call on UNFCCC to kick big polluters out of climate policy

Just months before Paris meeting, the call signals a global rejection of corporate capture of climate policymaking

BONN, GERMANY—Today, in the final days of the Bonn Climate Change Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Corporate Accountability International delivered a resounding call to the parties of the UNFCCC on behalf of hundreds of other organizations and hundreds of thousands people: protect the treaty and climate policymaking from the undue influence of the globe’s biggest polluters.
The call comes as record droughts and rainfall as well as relentless heatwaves claim lives around the globe and some of the world’s biggest polluters attempt to co-opt the treaty process and influence negotiating outcomes. The meeting in Bonn, concluding June 11, is one of the last formal meetings of the Parties before the next full Conference of the Parties to the treaty in Paris—largely regarded as a make-or-break moment for the agreement.
“Why would you let the professional arsonist join the volunteer fire department?” said Bill McKibben, author and co-founder of, “These are the guys who want to keep the problem going, not solve it.”
From aggressive lobbying of national governments to bankrolling of international meetings, the fossil fuel industry interferes at all levels. Industry co-optation of treaty meetings has been a growing problem and a primary obstacle to progress. At the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Warsaw, corporations with a direct conflict of interest in the treaty’s success not only sponsored the talks, they were given preferential access to delegates.
In May, it was revealed that COP 21 in Paris may be yet another “Corporate COP” with the announcement of EDF and Suez Environnement as lead sponsors. Suez Environnement, infamous for its dealings in water privatization, is partially owned by ENGIE, formerly GDF Suez, which profits from fracking operations around the world, putting it at direct odds with the advancement of the treaty. ENGIE and EDF’s coal operations contribute to nearly 50 percent of France’s emissions.
The cozy relationship between polluters and the UNFCCC has become increasingly institutionalized. The Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA), a joint project of the incoming and outgoing COP presidents, the Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the UNFCCC Secretariat, encourages direct engagement with non-state actors—primarily identified as sub-national governments and corporations—as stakeholders in the policymaking process.
“The fossil fuel industry is not a partner in the solution—it is the driver of the crisis. Giving big polluters a seat at the table glosses over the glaring conflict of interest fossil fuel corporations have in a real solution to climate change,” said John Stewart, deputy campaign director at Corporate Accountability International. “Inviting gas, oil and coal corporations to shape climate policy is akin to looking to Big Tobacco to shape public health policy.”
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Additional quotes of support:
“It’s time for the politicians to listen to the people and not the polluters. The fossil fuel industry continues to be the main obstacle in addressing the climate crisis, whether by corrupting the political process or by attempting to derail the ongoing transformation away from fossil fuel dependence. The only place for them in the UN process is outside of it. These negotiations must put the needs of vulnerable people and the planet centre stage, not the profits of dirty energy corporations,”
-Jamie Henn, Strategy and Communications Director.

“Big polluters have an existential profit motive to continue extracting and burning fossil fuels. The rest of humanity has an existential survival imperative to keep fossil fuels in the ground. These fundamentally opposed interests should automatically disqualify the fossil fuel industry from participating in the global climate talks—period. The people who are actively fighting to stop us from solving this problem have no right to a seat at the table to create the solution.”
– Rainforest Action Network Climate and Energy Program Director Amanda Starbuck

“If our governments actually intend to crack down on carbon emissions and make polluters pay, then they will first need to declare independence from the fossil fuel industry. The energy giants are motivated by one thing: profits. As long as those profits mean the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, they will never be part of the solution.”
-Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything

“The fossil fuel industry’s only concern is to protect their profits, plain and simple. But when an industry’s profits come from the very thing we’re trying to avoid — burning the planet — it should have no place in shaping policy. The only reason our governments continue to irrationally subsidize fossil fuels despite the fact that we already have far more than we can afford to burn is because of the massive influence of this dirty industry. We urgently need to stop funding fossils and get on with our transition to a safe climate future. Big Oil and its friends need to get out of the way,”
-David Turnbull, Oil Change International Campaigns Director

“Ninety companies created the vast majority of the climate crisis that threatens all life on earth as we know it. To give those same handful of corporations and CEOs a seat at the table where we’re trying to nurture a fragile international accord to stop global climate catastrophe: it’s not just ignorant, it’s an insult to the millions of Americans who are counting on President Obama and his team to take real, binding action on climate. It’s time to kick big polluters out of the climate talks.”
-Sally King, the lead Bonn-Talks Campaigner at Environmental Action.

Note on the legal precedent of the FCTC: Ten years ago, Corporate Accountability International and its global network of civil society organizations secured a powerful international legal precedent when it led the charge to successfully kick the tobacco industry out of treaty talks at the World Health Organization negotiations of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The success of the FCTC has enabled meaningful public health regulation that is unencumbered by industry profit motives and protects 90 percent of the world’s population from one of the most deadly industries on the planet.

Full list of organizations officially participating in the joint action:
Amazon Watch

Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Corporate Accountability International
CREDO Action

Daily Kos

Environmental Action
Federation of Young European Greens
Friends of the Earth Nigeria

Food & Water Watch

Forecast the Facts

Greenpeace USA

League of Conservation Voters

Oil Change International

People for the American Way 

Rainforest Action Network

RH Reality Check


The Natural History Museum