Big business oppose cuts – to greenhouse gas emissions

Big business is supportive of many of the public service spending cuts. But UK companies, and the business associations that represent them, are lobbying hard to delay cuts in another area where they could make a positive difference: greenhouse gas emissions. Europe-based companies, including BP and Eon, have been systematically supporting members of the Senate who obstruct action on climate change and these links were revealed in a recent report by Climate Action Network Europe.

Magda Stoczkiewicz is the director of Friends of the Earth Europe, and writes on behalf of the organisers of the Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2010

Big business is supportive of many of the public service spending cuts. But UK companies, and the business associations that represent them, are lobbying hard to delay cuts in another area where they could make a positive difference: greenhouse gas emissions. Europe-based companies, including BP and Eon, have been systematically supporting members of the Senate who obstruct action on climate change and these links were revealed in a recent report by Climate Action Network Europe.

The report shows that the total money given by EU-based companies to anti-science and anti-climate candidates before the mid-term elections is higher than the sums given by Koch Industries – the second largest privately owned company in the US and a notorious funder of climate deniers.

On its own this would be questionable behaviour by European businesses. But many of these same companies, and their industry associations, are citing the lack of progress on climate legislation in the US to pressure the EU not to take effective action. The CAN-Europe report exposes the lack of action in the US as a situation these European companies themselves have worked hard to create.

Climate science tells us that Europe must make cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2020. Research published by Friends of the Earth has shown that this is possible, and affordable. The climate crisis is a chance to achieve a just transition to a sustainable economy, with hundreds of thousands of high quality green jobs, and substantial business opportunities for those who make the first-move.

Yet heavy industries have consistently argued against higher emission reduction targets in the EU’s emissions trading system, scaremongered about widespread job losses around the continent, and obstructed other measures such as direct regulation, and shifting subsidies away from fossil fuels, which would bring about more effective, sharper cuts in emissions.

It is for this reason that a steel company – ArcelorMittal, an electricity generator relying largely on fossil fuel – RWE (npower), and one of the leading European business associations – BusinessEurope, have been nominated in the climate category for this year’s “Worst EU Lobbying Awards”. The nominees have all excelled this year in deceptive lobby tactics and been granted privileged access to decision makers responsible for climate legislation. This is a situation that must change.

When our decision makers would rather support the vested interests of heavy industry, citing the failure of the US to take action to mask their own lack of political will, we may have to conclude they also need to cut their links with big business.

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