The Heat Is Online

Businesses to Dominate Climate Summit -- Environmentalists Excluded

Business to dominate climate summit

Sydney Morning Herald, Jan. 9, 2006

 

It has  been billed as one of the most important environment meetings in recent years but environment groups have not been invited to the inaugural Asia-Pacific partnership on clean development and climate.

However, big business will be there in force - companies like the global miner Rio Tinto and the oil group Exxon Mobil - and will foot part of the bill for a harbour cruise.

Environment, energy and foreign affairs ministers from Australia, the US, China, Japan, India and South Korea were all invited to take part in the two-day meeting. Much of Wednesday would be taken up by meetings between governments and big energy providers and energy users, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.

The Australian Government, which has promoted the partnership as an alternative to the international agreement on cutting greenhouse gases, the Kyoto Protocol, says the countries at the talks will be asked to speed up technologies that will allow them to continue using large amounts of energy from fossil fuels such as coal and gas while producing less greenhouse gas.

But the meeting is not expected to put in place any mechanism to force industry to adopt the technologies, which are not yet commercially viable.

Visiting chief executives from companies including Rio Tinto, Peabody Energy Corp, Portland Cement, American Electric Power and Exxon Mobil will be received at Government House on Wednesday afternoon.

The Herald was told that in the evening dinner would be sponsored by a number of companies and business groups such as the Australian Aluminium Council, the Australian Coal Association, BP Australia, the Cement Industry Federation and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. The federal Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources is also a sponsor.

The environment groups Greenpeace, the Australian Conservation Foundation and WWF told the Herald they had not been invited to any part of the meeting. "It has been one of the most secretive conferences on climate change we know of, with no involvement from non-governmental organisations," said a WWF spokeswoman, Angela Heck.

Federal Government departments contacted by the Herald could not comment on why environment groups were not invited to the meeting.