BP and COP15

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United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Since 1990, the UN General Assembly has pushed for action regarding climate change. This led to 154 countries signing the UN Framework Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) at the UN summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In the sometimes frustrating time since then, 189 countries including the one time antagonist the USA have ratified the convention[1]. The goal of the convention is to keep atmospheric greenhouse gases at a level which prevents dangerous man made climate change. In recent years, an annual conference of “the Parties” (COP) is held. Here, the countries which have ratified the convention meet to discuss how the goals of the convention are being sought, and hopefully obtained. A tool which the convention has adopted is the Kyoto Protocol.

United Nations Climate Change Panel

Alongside the UNFCCC, there are meetings of the United Nations Climate Change Panel or what is also known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( IPCC). This was set up in 1988 following the Brundtland Report called “Our Common Future”. The aim of the IPCC is to gather and evaluate scientific data and literature, evaluate the extent and understanding of climate change, and calculate possible solution.

Brief history of COP

The 15th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP-15) will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark, on December 7th 2009, and will be the largest summit on climate change ever.

COP-1 to COP-14

COP-1. The COP conferences have been held in various parts of the world, the first one in 1995, was in Berlin. This conference was very much an infant process, where the result was “The Berlin Mandate” a two year analysis and evaluation of the situation with regards to green house emissions. COP-2. In Geneva, in 1996, the results from the IPCC 2nd assessment, which was released the year before, was endorsed. It was established here, than member countries would persue solutions that were most relevant to their own situation, and the wish for binding targets was expressed. COP-3. Kyoto, Japan, 1997. The famous Kyoto Protocol was adopted. For the first time ever, binding greenhouse emissions targets were introduced, for 37 industrialist countries from 2008 to 2012. After a number of years of uncertainty the protocol was ratified on 16th February 2005. Several member countries of the UNFCCC have not ratified the protocol. COP-4. Buenos Aires, 1998. Problems with the Kyoto Protocol (KP) were examined and a two year period scheduled to clarify the situation. COP-5. Bonn, 1999. Technical discussions regarding mechanisms under KP. COP-6a. The Hague, 2000. This conference was marked by political discussions, which broke down when the European Union (E.U.) countries refused a compromise proposal. Problems with the United States regarding Carbon Sinks, and what sanctions to bring to countries who did not meet their obligations to reduce emissions remained. An extraordinary meeting was called for the following year, and it was agreed that negotiations would resume in July 2001. COP-6b. Bonn, 2001. By the time this conference came around, the new President of the USA George W Bush had officially rejected the KP. Despite low expectations this conference reached several agreements. The question of Carbon Sinks and sanctions were answered. COP-7. Marrakesh, 2001. Here, the documents called the Marrakesh Accords were gathered, the almost completed negotiations of the KP. COP-8. Delhi, 2002. The EU tried unsuccessfully to pass a declaration for more action from the parties of the UNFCCC. COP-9. Milan, 2003. Tidying, if not tying up the loose ends of KP. COP-10. Buenos Aires, 2004. Opening up of discussions as to what would happen when the KP expires in 2012, continuation of finalising the technicalities of KP. COP-11/CMP1. Montreal, 2005. First to take place after the KP had come into force. Here, the COP meeting was accompanied by the annual meeting between parties to the Kyoto Protocol CMP or COP/MOP. The focus was that of what would happen after the KP’s expiry in 2012. COP-12/CMP2. Nairobi,2006. The last remaining questions regarding KP were answered, and the negotiations toward an agreement for after Kyoto continued. COP-13/CMP3. Bali, 2007. The process of reaching a new agreement to replace the KP in 2012 made great progress. The most recent report from the IPCC and its conclusions were discussed, and the “Bali Action Plan” was adopted. This in essence sets the scene for the talks leading up to COP-15 in Copenhagen. COP-14/CMP4. Poznan, 2008. The work continued toward a new global climate agreement in Copenhagen[2]. The whole series of talks drew over 9250 participants, including 4000 government officials, 4500 representatives of UN bodies, agencies, intergovernmental organisations and non-governmental organisations[3].

However, by far largest corporate lobby group, was the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA). This group represents the interests of Shell, B.P, Exxon and others. The IETA contained by far the largest delegation of people “-larger than any government delegation (even that of the United States) and far, far larger than any civil society group could afford to send"[4].

COP15 – Copenhagen 2009

The Danish government’s goal is to see an agreement entered by the Parties, which will apply to the period after 2012[5].

British Petroleum

British Petroleum has for a long time taken an active role in lobbying governments, mounting persuasive campaigns to turn public opinion against definite action on climate change and greenhouse gases. It was formally a member of the Global Climate Coalition (GCC). Wishing to be seen as progressive, it was one of the first companies to withdraw from the GCC. In 1998, Shell followed suite and left the coalition, by 2000, Texaco and others had joined the movement away from the coalition. While the GCC was seen by many as an overt lobby against action on climate change, its demise was celebrated. However, since then, other lobbies, using more subtle tactics have come into being. BP takes a high profile position within the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). BP also belongs to the US Council for International Business (USCIB)[6]. Other prominent members of the council include: the American Petroleum Institute, Chevron (oil Co.), Mobil, Shell (oil), and Texaco (oil). The USCIB is the US affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE). Most significantly USCIB chairs the expert-group of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) [7]. BP also holds positions within the Centre for European Policy Studies[8](CEPS). BP's chief executive officer (CEO) is entitled to sit at the Business Roundtable[9]. The roundtable's position is explained in Rush to Judgment: A Primer on Global Climate Change, available on the group's website. [1] The European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT), which includes BP is a club of 48 captains of industry drawn from the largest European multinationals. With privileged access to EU and national decision-makers the roundtable has been at the forefront in promoting industry self-regulation over government-enforceable mechanisms. BP also belongs to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)[10]: "The only representative body that speaks with authority on behalf of enterprises from all sectors in every part of the world."[11] . The ICC promotes free trade and the market economy with the conviction that "trade is a powerful force for peace and prosperity"[12]. The ICC aims to be a forum where business can agree voluntary rules to govern world trade in the hope that this image of responsible industry self-regulation will persuade governments not to interfere. It proved so successful in this that within a year of the creation of the United Nations, ICC was granted consultative status at the UN[13].

People

BP’s Director of European Government Affairs in Brussels is Howard Chase. Under him works BP’s main lobbyists Olivera Drazic, Emmanuel Haton, and Gunnar Jungk. Ian Conn, BP’s chief executive of refining and marketing, sat alongside Commissioners and members of the Council on the Commission’s High Level Group on Competitiveness Energy and the Environment”[14]. BP chairman Peter Sutherland was appointed to the President Jaques Delors’s advisor on energy and climate change in 2007. The company’s former Chief Executive David Simon stepped down and took a position as the UK’s Minister for Trade and Competitiveness in Europe[15].

Affiliations

The B.P group belongs to a large number of lobbying organisations. This gives it substantial access to government, especially in Great Britain and within the EU.

Centre for European Policy Studies

BP holds a position within the CEPS[16]. This organisation has held talks on or around COP gatherings. A major contribution from CEPS was working on “Emissions trading and new EU climate change policy” a working group which was chaired by Charles Nicholson of B.P.[17]. At the core of CEPS, is the International Advisory Council (IAC)[18]. The IAC is a group of eminent individuals from government, business and academia. The council meets once a year in Brussels and is one of the main sources of information and advice for policy formation for the EU, it concentrates its advice on strategic ideas in an annual publication which is integral to the EU’s policy process.

European Round Table of Industrialists

The ERT was born in the early 1980’s, and evolved out of a growing preoccupation with the state of the European economy, which was seen as lacking dynamism, innovation and competitiveness, in comparison with Japan and the U.S.A. at the time. The birth of an organisation, better able to wake governments up to the state of the economy was sought, and the result was the ERT. It is an informal forum bringing together around 45 chief executives of major multinational companies.[19] The ERT has privileged access to EU and national decision makers. A fervent advocate of industry self regulation, instead of governmental regulation and mechanisms, the ERT Environmental Working Group circulated a report prior to COP-6 entitled “Climate Change How Government and Industry can Work Together” [20].

European Chemical Industry Council

B.P is also a member of the European Chemical Industry Council, which describes itself as “both the forum and the voice of the European chemical industry” [21]. This organisation represents approx 40,000 chemical companies throughout Europe, and extensively lobbies the European Commission on behalf of its members.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development

The WBCSD is a “CEO-led” worldwide association of approx 200 companies. The council provides a forum for companies to explore sustainable development, share knowledge, experience, and practices, working alongside governments and non-governmental and intergovernmental organisations. “Members are drawn from more than 35 countries and 20 major industrial sectors. The council also benefits from a global network of about 58 national and regional business councils and regional partners.” [22] Like many other multinationals B.P attempts to gain the higher ethical ground, it therefore takes a leading role within the WBCSD[23].

International Chamber of Commerce & US Council for International Business

Along with Shell, B.P also is a member of the ICC [24], and the USCIB[25]. The ICC describes itself as “The only body that speaks with authority on behalf of enterprises from all sectors in every part of the world”[26]. Seeing trade as a powerful force for peace and prosperity, the ICC aims to be a forum in which global businesses can negotiate and implement voluntary rules and regulations to govern world trade. This it is hoped will show governments that industry can be self regulating, and discourage governmental interference. The ICC enjoys consultative status at the UN[27] . The USCIB is involved in lobbying the US government, and B.P, along with approx 300 other companies utilise the council “to promote an open system of world trade, investment and finance”[28] .

American Petroleum Institute

The API is the main U.S. trade association for the oil and gas industry. Representing about 400 companies, its chief functions include advocacy and negotiation with governmental, legal or regulatory agencies. It is also involved in research into economic and environmental effects, and certification of industry standards. “We speak for the petroleum industry to the public, Congress and the Executive Branch, state governments and the media. We negotiate with regulatory agencies, represent the industry in legal proceedings, participate in coalitions and work in partnership with other associations to achieve our members’ public policy goals"[29]. API spent an estimated $4 million to lobby the federal government in 2007. It lobbied on various appropriations bills, on oil tax and fees, on international investment and much more, amongst the departments lobbied were the State Department, Defence Department, Environmental Protection agency and even the IRS[30].Based in Washington DC, the API has offices in 33 capital cities across the globe, with regional oil and gas associations on over a dozen more. The API argues that environmental regulations are based on faulty science and are the result of scare tactics by the environmental community.[31].

UK Round table on Sustainable Development

The UK Round Table on Sustainable Development was established in 1995. Its remit was to provide a forum for discussion on major issues of sustainable development. It was designed to help identify the agenda and priorities for sustainable development and to develop new areas of consensus around the issues of sustainable development. The round table included members from all parts of the United Kingdom, from a wide spectrum of backgrounds[32].In May 1999 the Government published its sustainable development white paper “A Better Quality of Life”. This set out a fresh strategy framework for policy in this area. This included the formation of a more powerful Sustainable Development Commission. The Round Table, along with the British Government Panel on Sustainable Development were merged into this new organisation[33].

BP's influence in the EU

The European market accounts for 43% of BP’s total market sales[34]. However, the most significant part of business in Europe, as world- wide, is refining. BP are the third largest refining company in the world, and the third largest in Europe after Shell and Total. It has several refineries throughout Europe, including the Netherlands, Germany and Spain[35]. Europe represents 36% of BP’s refining; this shows just how important Europe and its various institutions are to BP’s profits. “BP Europe operates from a Brussels office in the heart of the EU quarter. The 20 or so BP staff who work there are employed to maintain BP’s relationship with the European commission. BP’s business is extractive: in the North Sea it extracts oil and gas; in Brussels, the company extracts political resources to support its aims” [36].

The EU, as a vast geographical area, and a single market, and according to Platform, being the second largest energy consumer in the world, holds enormous benefits for BP. The refining and sale of oil has increasingly come under the control of the EU, through various environmental legislation, as well as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. As the control imposed by the EU has increased, the petroleum industry as a whole has defended itself with ever increasing numbers of lobbyists. BP like the rest of the industry has pushed increasingly for self regulation, and when legislation cannot be avoided, the company pushes for flexibility and softer legislation. “In the case of the European Emissions Trading Scheme, the company has deliberately worked to shape a scheme which fails to deliver cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, while successfully diverting attention from meaningful action on climate change”[37]. The company has in recent years increased its influence by utilising increased lobbying. However, this is not the only form of influence the company has utilised.

The increasing phenomenon of business executives holding positions within influential EU institutions has also been embraced by the company. “For example between 2006 and 2008 Ian Conn, BP’s chief executive of refining and marketing sat alongside Commissioners and members of the Council on the Commission’s High Level Group on Competitiveness Energy and the Environment”[38]. This ‘revolving door’ between business and politics is best seen in Dick Cheney’s swap from CEO of Halliburton to Vice President of the United States. This has been seen increasingly the situation also in Europe and also in Britain. BP chairman Peter Sutherland was appointed to the President Jaques Delors’s advisor on energy and climate change in 2007. While the company’s Former Chief Executive David Simon stepped down and took a position as the UK’s Minister for Trade and Competiveness in Europe. Alongside this the main lobbying group in Europe for the petroleum industry, the European Round Table of Industries (ERT), which Peter Sutherland has been a member of since 1997, has taken on an agenda which seeks to deregulate and liberalise.

Another lobby association which represents BP’s interests, and hope to influence European Union policy making is The European Petroleum Industry Association (EUROPIA). This lobby group presents the common positions on issues which effect the petroleum industry to the EU which frequently consults EUROPIA through the commission. According to EUROPIA, the petroleum industry in Europe is working toward “the development of better regulation in relevant areas of European policy” it sees regulation as an “old fashioned, command and control approach ... We believe in markets”[39]. It comes as no surprise that BP and the other petroleum companies through lobby groups such as EUROPIA and the ERT pushed for the EU’s emissions trading scheme. BP’s Director of European Government Affairs in Brussels is Howard Chase. Under him works BP’s main lobbyists Olivera Drazic , Emmanuel Haton , and Gunnar Jungk. Haton regularly meets with the Kangaroo Group which brings together representatives of industry, the European Commission, as well as pro oil MEP’s[40]. The lobby group in Brussels , along with BP’s close relationship with the Commission and MEP’s means that the company holds a large influence upon the development of European legislation. “Yet few of these conversations are recorded. Access- to- document requests reveal, that the Commission frequently keeps only token minutes of consultant meetings. Consequently much of BP’s input remains hidden” [41]. Yet, the fact that the company has deep influence throughout the system, and that it spends 250,000 Euros a year on lobbying there indicates that the company takes its voice being heard in Brussels very seriously.

While BP essentially acknowledged the failure of its previous strategy (of denial) through leaving the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) in 1997, it has since forged a more ‘covert’ approach toward the issue of climate change. For a company who previously argued against any cut in greenhouse gas emissions, the adoption of an EU wide reduction scheme, could well have been seen by many, as a failure. However, through acknowledging that it was part of the problem, it was able to convince EU policy makers that it could be part of the solution, and quickly became a major influence in the formation of policy. “Given the scale of the problem, the impact of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) on BP’s business has been minimal, and any effect that it has had on the company has been positive, as BP has led the field in trading emissions allowances”[42]. Through successful lobbying campaigns, BP have effectively brought about policy and legislation which is toothless with regard to regulation of an industry which is a major contributor to the climate crisis. Strong regulation was put to one side in favour of weak and empty voluntary initiatives. It’s influence over EU policy making and its expansion into Russia via its TNK-BP venture could also be agued has also compromised European energy security[43].

Supporters

The main lobby group which supports the petroleum industry at COP-15 is expected to be the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA). This lobby group is a strong advocate of Carbon Trading.

Links with government

The strength of BP's links to Britain's New-Labour government became apparent within weeks of their election in 1997 when they appointed former chair of BP David Simon (Lord Simon of Highbury) to a position in the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as Minister for Competitiveness in Europe. BP is represented on a number of government QUANGOs: DTI Advisory Panel on Photovoltaics, Council for Science & Technology, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Advice Committee on Business and Environment, Industrial Development Advice Board, UK Round Table on Sustainable Development, and the Oil and Pipelines Agency.

Greenwash

A key plank of BP's marketing strategy has been to portray itself as a green company. BP has promoted new 'cleaner' fuels and publicised its targets for reducing CO2 emissions from its own operations (eg. by reducing gas flaring), not mentioning its ambitious targets for increased production of fossil fuels. In his introduction to BP's annual report 2000 John Browne prescribes that for the immediate future hydrocarbons will continue to meet the majority of our energy needs. BP has further greened its image by being seen to talk with Oxfam and Friends of the Earth. The marketing spin pushed by BP Solar is that "BP Solar is a recognized leader in protecting the environment and believes solar power is a key element to reduce the threat of global climate change and improve air quality."[44]. BP suppoort the International Emissions Trading Association in its campaign for Carbon Trading. This is strongly argued against by some environmentalists as purely Greenwash. See Carbon Trading for details.


References

Notes

  1. United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 website, accessed April 2009
  2. IISD reporting services website, accessed April 2009
  3. ENB Summary and analysis of COP-14 website, accessed April 2009
  4. European Youth for Action Website, accessed April 2009
  5. United Nations Climate Change Conference Website, accessed April 2009
  6. US Council for International Business Website, Accessed April 2009
  7. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Website, Accessed April 2009
  8. Centre for European Policy Studies Website, Accessed April 2009
  9. Business Round Table Website, Accessed April 2009
  10. International Chamber of Commerce Website, Accessed April 2009
  11. International Chamber of Commerce Website, Accessed April 2009
  12. International Chamber of Commerce Website, Accessed April 2009
  13. International Chamber of Commerce Website, Accessed April 2009
  14. Corporate Europe Website, Accessed April 2009
  15. Corporate Europe Website, Accessed April 2009
  16. Centre for European Policy Studiea Website, Accessed April 2009
  17. Centre for European Policy Studiea Website, Accessed April 2009
  18. Centre for European Policy Studiea Website, Accessed April 2009
  19. European Round Table of Industrialists Website, Accessed April 2009
  20. Corporate Watch Website, Accessed April 2009
  21. The European Chemical Industry Council Website, Accessed April 2009
  22. World Business Council for Sustainable Development Website, Accessed April 2009
  23. World Business Council for Sustainable Development Website, Accessed April 2009
  24. International Chamber of Commerce Website, Accessed April 2009
  25. US Council for International Business Website, Accessed April 2009
  26. International Chamber of Commerce Website, Accessed April 2009
  27. International Chamber of Commerce Website, Accessed April 2009
  28. US Council for International Business Website, Accessed April 2009
  29. American Petroleum Institute Website, Accessed April 2009
  30. Source Watch Website, Accessed April 2009
  31. Exxon Secrets Website, April 2009
  32. UK Round Table on Sustainable Development Website, Accessed April 2009
  33. UK Round Table on Sustainable Development Website, Accessed April 2009
  34. Corporate Europe Website, Accessed April2009
  35. Corporate Europe Website, Accessed April2009
  36. Corporate Europe Website, Accessed April2009
  37. Corporate Europe Website, Accessed April2009
  38. Corporate Europe Website, Accessed April2009
  39. Corporate Europe Website, Accessed April2009
  40. Corporate Europe Website, Accessed April2009
  41. Corporate Europe Website, Accessed April2009
  42. Corporate Europe Website, Accessed April2009
  43. Corporate Europe Website, Accessed April2009
  44. British Petroeum Solar Website, Accessed 2009