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23. US Oil Targets Kyoto in Europe

Sources:
The Guardian UK, December 8, 2005
Title: “Oil Industry Targets EU Climate Policy
Author: David Adam

The Independent UK, December 8, 2005
Title: “How America Plotted to Stop Kyoto Deal”
Author: Andrew Buncombe

Faculty Evaluator: Ervand Peterson
Student Researcher: Christy Baird

Lobbyists funded by the U.S. oil industry have launched a campaign in Europe aimed at derailing efforts to tackle greenhouse gas pollution and climate change.

Documents obtained by Greenpeace reveal a systematic plan to persuade European business, politicians and the media that the European Union should abandon its commitments under the Kyoto protocol, the international agreement that aims to reduce emissions that lead to global warming.

The documents, an email and a PowerPoint presentation, describe efforts to establish a European coalition to “challenge the course of the EU’s post-2012 agenda.” They were written by Chris Horner, a Washington D.C. lawyer and senior fellow at the rightwing think tank the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which has received more than $1.3 million funding from the U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil. Horner also acts for the Cooler Heads Coalition, a group set up “to dispel the myth of global warming.”

The PowerPoint document sets out plans to establish a group called the European Sound Climate Policy Coalition. It says: “In the U.S. an informal coalition has helped successfully to avert adoption of a Kyoto-style program. This model should be emulated, as appropriate, to guide similar efforts in Europe.”

During the 1990s U.S. oil companies and other corporations funded a group called the Global Climate Coalition, which emphasized uncertainties in climate science and disputed the need to take action. It was disbanded when President Bush pulled the U.S. out of the Kyoto process. The group’s website now says: “The industry voice on climate change has served its purpose by contributing to a new national approach to global warming.”

Countries signed up to the Kyoto process have legal commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Oil and energy companies would be affected by these cuts because burning their products produces the most emissions.

The PowerPoint document written by Horner appears to be aimed at getting RWE, the German utility company, to join a European coalition of companies to act against Kyoto. Horner is convinced that, with Europe’s weakening economy, companies are likely to be increasingly ill at ease with the costs of meeting Kyoto mandates and thus could be successfully influenced to pressure their government to reject Kyoto standards, as the U.S. government has. Horner’s audiences have included several significant companies including Ford Europe, Lufthansa, and Exxon.

The document says: “The current political realities in Brussels open a window of opportunity to challenge the course of the EU’s post-2012 agenda.” It adds: “Brussels must openly acknowledge and address them willingly or through third party pressure.”

It says industry associations are the “wrong way to do this” but suggests that a cross-industry coalition, of up to six companies, could “counter the commission’s Kyoto agenda.” Such a coalition are advised to steer debate by targeting journalists and bloggers, as well as attending environmental group meetings and events to “share information on opposing viewpoints and tactics.”

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