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Report: Small Group of Multinationals Block Government Action on Climate

Multinationals skew climate change policy: report

Corporations exert 'undue influence' on the issue in both Canada and the U.S., Greenpeace charges

 The Vancouver Sun, Nov. 23, 2011

A handful of multinational corporations are "exerting undue influence" on the political process in Canada, the U.S. and other key nations to delay international action on climate change, a report released by Greenpeace International says.

The report documents a series of alleged lobbying and marketing efforts led by major corporations and industry associations, representing oil and gas companies as well as other major sources of pollution in Canada, the U.S., Europe and South Africa, which is hosting an international climate-change summit that begins next Monday.

Industry stakeholders are investing about $3.5 billion a year to lobby the U.S. government and finance American politicians who "deny" scientific evidence linking human activity to dangerous changes in the atmosphere that contribute to global warming, estimates the report, titled: Who's holding us back? How carbon intensive industry is preventing effective climate legislation.

"Carbon-intensive corporations and their networks of trade associations are blocking policies that aim to transition our societies into green, sustainable, low risk economies," said the report, writ-ten by Greenpeace staff from around the world, based on national lobbying registries and other public records from government and industry.

"These polluting corporations often exert their influence behind the scenes, employing a variety of techniques, including using trade associations and think-tanks as front groups; confusing the public through climate denial or advertising campaigns; making corporate political donations; as well as making use of the 'revolving door' between public servants and carbon-intensive corporations."

The report raises questions about activities of energy companies including Shell, Koch Industries and Eskom, as well as BASF (a chemical products company), BHP Billiton (a mining company) and ArcelorMittal, a steel company created from a merger that followed the takeover of Canadian-based Dofasco by Europe-based Arcelor.

Most nations at the upcoming inter-national summit in South Africa, have publicly said they hope to extend tar-gets to reduce pollution under the Kyoto Protocol, the world's only legally-binding treaty on global warming.

But Canada, along with Japan and Russia, has indicated that it plans to walk away from the deal that set tar-gets for developed nations between 2008 and 2012 as a first step toward stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions.

"Canada goes to Durban with a number of countries sharing the same objectives and that is to put Kyoto behind us and to encourage all nations and all major emitting countries to embrace a new agreement to reduce greenhouse gas in a material way," Environment Minister Peter Kent said Tuesday in the House of Commons.

Representatives of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers say they support balanced climate and energy policies that allow for growth of all energy sources to meet rising demands in the decades to come. But meantime, the association says its members are adapting to new policies and pollution taxes from jurisdictions such as Alberta and British Columbia, while investing in new technologies to prepare for stronger standards in the future.

The Canadian lobby group has opposed policies in jurisdictions such as the U.S. and the European Union that would discourage consumption of fuel derived from the oilsands or other sources that have a heavier footprint than conventional sources of oil.

The report says Ottawa and Alberta have been partners in a taxpayer-funded "advocacy strategy" led by Canada's Foreign Affairs Department to fight climate-change policies and "pro-mote the interests of oil companies."

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