An analysis report by Corporate European Observatory (CEO) and Corporate Accountability has it that 18 out of 20 of the sponsors of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) climate change conference in Egypt allegedly directly support or partner with the fossil fuel industry.
This analysis comes in the closing days of COP27 which has already been marred by revelations of corporate interference and influence, such as the COP Presidency retaining a notable PR firm for Big Oil and the presence of more than 636 fossil fuel lobbyists.
According to a statement issued by Corporate Accountability on Friday, “though the world’s top plastic polluter for five years running, Coca-Cola, has already received extensive scrutiny, other sponsors raise similar questions about the integrity of these negotiations.”
The statement noted that among this year’s sponsors are banks that directly finance the fossil fuel industry such as Afreximbank and Mashreq.
It added that there are corporations that build and operate gas-fired power plants like Orascom Construction and Siemens. There are also tech and communications corporations including Cisco, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Vodafone that provide a range of services for the fossil fuel industry.
“As if it weren’t bad enough that lobbyists for corporations like Shell, BP, and Chevron were walking the halls of COP27, now the revelation that the entire conference is being bankrolled by corporations with close industry ties? After 30 years of allowing polluters to upend progress, governments need to finally put an end to the madness and kick big polluters out,” said Pascoe Sabido, a researcher and campaigner for CEO.
CEO and Corporate Accountability are two of more than 450 organisations that are calling for an end to such sponsorships and other means of corporate persuasion over vital climate talks.
In August, a broad spectrum of civil society formally requested world governments adopt an accountability framework to address such brazen attempts by polluting industries to obstruct progress and use the UNFCCC for greenwashing.
“Corporations shouldn’t sponsor climate talks, let alone support the deadly agenda of those with ties to the very industry responsible for the climate crisis. Making the primary global forum for averting climate catastrophe a greenwashing platform for polluters undermines the UNFCCC and all its aspirations. This isn’t a trade show, it’s our near final chance to save millions of lives and ensure a livable planet for all,” said Rachel Rose Jackson, director of climate research and policy at Corporate Accountability.
Corporate Accountability and CEO’s analysis had this to say about this COP27 sponsors:
“General Motors has long been a major driver of fossil fuel consumption globally. It knew about the impact of the combustion engine on the climate as early as the 1960s, yet lobbied (as it does to this day) to block action and funded climate denial.
“Microsoft’s own employees have protested the corporation’s complicity in the climate crisis, which is no surprise given its role as the oil and gas industry’s largest tech partner, helping fossil fuel giants optimize their extraction. What’s more, its ‘net-zero by 2050’ pledge relies on questionable offsets and unproven tech fixes, not ending ties to the fossil fuel industry.
“Siemens already operates and maintains one of the world’s largest gas-fired power plants in Egypt and is planning to build more around the world, including the ‘largest of its kind’ in Turkey.
“Siemens Energy, a Siemens spin off, builds gas-fired power plants globally and vital parts for them. It’s currently in construction of an 840MW plan in the UK for last year’s COP26 sponsor, SSE.
“Cisco is a leading corporation in providing cybersecurity services to the oil and gas industry and has long provided communications services to the sector.
“Hassan Allam Holding intends to make North Africa a ‘regional hub for natural gas’ and has announced close to USD $18 billion in oil and gas investments through 2024.
“Mashreq refinances multinational oil and gas development, is pushing for fossil fuel development through the energy transition, and has provided USD $90 million in credit for the Middle East’s largest regional private natural gas corporation.
“Afreximbank just struck a deal with African petroleum producers to finance existing and new oil and gas projects.
“Orascom Construction built one of the world’s largest gas-fired power plants in Egypt.
“Self-described as ‘no stranger to oil and gas,’ the Mansour Group has for decades sold fossil fuel drilling equipment with plans to ‘take a more proactive role in this lucrative field.’ It also is invested in a corporation that supports offshore oil and gas development.
“ADSERO — Ragy Soliman & Partners is not only a sponsor, but legal counsel to the COP27 Presidency. It also has represented a panoply of fossil fuel financiers, not to mention the likes of Ashland Oil, Bechtel, and Mitsubishi Motors.
“As during COP26 in Glasgow, Boston Consulting Group’s advisory work with the world’s largest oil corporations and Saudi Arabia raises serious questions about the appropriateness of it sponsoring, let alone helping to organize COPs.”
The analysis however noted that, “while it’s good of EgyptAir to reduce single-use plastic like inflight Coca-Cola, this hardly qualifies a high-emitting corporation, to sponsor a COP when it has yet to address the emissions from its jet fuel.
“IBM is developing novel Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) techniques, a technology promoted by the fossil fuel industry to allow for continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels. It’s also involved in what the CSO GRAIN calls a ‘smokescreen for the emissions of big oil;’ a partnership with pesticide and fertilizer corporations to promote so-called ‘carbon farming.’
“Vodafone supports the development and maintenance of oil and gas infrastructure, having built, for instance, a new, private 5G mobile network for UK gas supplier Centrica.
“According to a new study, Google is enabling Big Oil’s greenwashing, allowing corporations including ExxonMobil, British Petroleum (BP), Chevron, and Aramco to spend tens of millions targeting search terms like ‘eco-friendly companies’ and ‘pros and cons of Paris climate agreement.’”
The Corporate Accountability statement adds that “Even Bloomberg Philanthropies, lauded for its critical investments to move the globe beyond coal, also financed what REDD Monitor dubs ‘the global financial elite’s plan to profit from the climate crisis while maintaining business as usual for Big Oil.’
“The plan, or Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets (TSVCM), is also sponsored by the Institute of International Finance (IIF), whose members represent 33 of the world’s top 50 fossil fuel financiers. IIF’s operating lead is also senior counsel at a law firm whose clients include the likes of ExxonMobil. The TSVCM is also closely linked to the Integrity Council, which has a range of concerning ties to the fossil fuel industry.”
According to the statement, only two sponsors had no immediately discernible ties to the fossil fuel industry or practices enabling of the industry: Infinity Power and Sodic.
“PR by a firm that shills for the fossil fuel industry? More fossil fuel lobbyists than the combined delegations of 15 African countries combined? A who’s who of polluters, fossil fuel financiers, and industry enablers bankrolling the COP? To an anti-malaria conference, you don’t invite the mosquitoes,” said Philip Jakpor, Director of Programmes, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa.
This story was produced as part of the 2022 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security.
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