You are hereDeSmogBlog: Who’s Killing the Copenhagen Climate Treaty? The Chamber of Commerce

DeSmogBlog: Who’s Killing the Copenhagen Climate Treaty? The Chamber of Commerce

-By Jim Hoggam

November 30, 2011- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has already done everything it can to kill the chances of a legally binding agreement emerging from the Copenhagen climate change summit.

Now it can sit back, relax and watch the action from a coffee shop outside the United Nations conference, content that its efforts to derail U.S. climate policy have effectively hamstrung the international negotiations.

As explained clearly in “The Global Climate Change Lobby,” an excellent new report from the Center for Public Integrity, corporate lobbyists and trade associations focus their attention on tampering with domestic legislative efforts, and then stand by and watch as their positions and talking points contaminate international negotiations indirectly.

Business interests (or BINGOs as they’re called in U.N. speak) “can have very little effect at these meetings,” according to Nick Campbell, a European industry lobbyist who has represented the International Chamber of Commerce at U.N. climate talks since the early 1990s when the global effort to fight climate change began with the Rio Earth Summit.

If the Chamber or other lobbying groups send any staff to international summits like the upcoming Copenhagen conference, their goal is to “loiter” in the coffee shops and collect business cards from delegates they can target later on legislative matters back home.

According to Campbell, “the advantage of coming to these meetings — as I’ve spent years trying to tell my colleagues — and I may as well talk to a brick wall over there — is that you have more opportunity talking to delegates at these meetings than you do at home.”

“You have the coffee bar; [delegates] are off-line. You might be staying at the same hotels as people,” Campbell says.

Brian Flannery, Exxon Mobil’s chief climate advisor and, along with Campbell, a representative of the International Chamber of Commerce, says that a UNFCCC conference “isn’t a place for lobbying. All the industry associations recognize their key issue is to work at home, with their governments, in their capitals,” Flannery says.

The U.N. talks are strictly used for networking efforts. “You form contacts all over the world, people you know who will answer the phone” later when you call them on domestic issues, according to Flannery.

But the Chamber of Commerce has not remained entirely quiet in the weeks before Copenhagen.

The group recently issued a white paper belittling the efforts of world leaders to reach an ambitious, legally-binding agreement in the Danish capital. The report is titled “The Prospects for Copenhagen: More Realism Can Smooth the Way,”[PDF] and was produced by the Chamber’s climate policy arm, the Institute for 21st Century Energy.

“There’s very little prospect that we’ll get a comprehensive agreement coming out of Copenhagen,” says Steve Eule, the Institute’s Vice President, in an online video discussing the report.



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