Shell and COP 15

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Global warming.jpg This article is part of the Climate project of Spinwatch.

Background

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 pursue 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].

COP-15. 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].

Countdown to Copenhagen

On its website, under the heading “Global recession is boosting corporate energy efficiency drive, research says”[6]. Shell includes the report by the Economist Intelligence Unit called “Countdown to Copenhagen” which reports on the state of global business as it prepares for COP-15. The report was launched at the 2009 Sustainability Summit, an annual event in London hosted by the Economist Conferences. “The summit brings business leaders together to compare strategies for competing in a low carbon world and analyse experiences from those companies at the forefront of implementing green business practice. James Smith, Chairman of Shell UK, addressed the conference on the consequences of failing to address climate change, alongside David Nussbaum, CEO of WWF UK[7].

In the report it is stated that its findings are based on a wide ranging global survey of 538 business executives in late 2008. As a follow up to the survey, 18 executives were also interviewed in-depth. The survey investigated the current regulatory outlook within key regions of the world, and prospects for change in the marketplace. “Part 1 of this report considers the prospects of Copenhagen, and gives a more detailed overview of the specific policy and regulatory initiatives under discussion within key countries, including the US, EU, Japan and India, which collectively account for the lion’s share of the worlds greenhouse gas emissions. Whatever policymakers in these various regions decide, the impact of regulation will fall primarily on the corporate sector, which is directly responsible for at least 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions”[8].

Part two of the report then moves on to consider the current attitudes within the business community regarding climate change. Here, the actions being taken, the outlook regarding the impact of economic downturn, and whether new environmental policy will effect business competitiveness. Key findings from this research were that; the present economic downturn will have mixed effects of efforts against climate change for both government and business, two thirds of companies (67%) saying that they thought that environmental issues will drop in their priorities. The majority (54%) of companies involved in the survey have started climate change strategies, most of whom (62%) have considered energy efficiency as being the easiest way of reducing emissions. Real adaptation to climate change is over the horizon for many companies, with ¾ of responses agreeing that they have been slow in preparing for the long term impacts of climate change. However there was 24% of companies that reported that they had been preparing for possible disruption to their operations, with 18% saying that they had been working on building resilience into their supply chain. Overall 40% of respondents reported that their company had developed new ‘green’ products, and saw this as an emerging market, however, 78% of respondents saw that many firms use climate change as merely a marketing tool. Significantly here, companies saw that emissions trading schemes will become increasingly wide spread, moving beyond the EU. A growing number of companies (56%) favour more environmental regulation, however insist on a level playing field.

The report sees that three key things will need to be achieved in Copenhagen for COP-15 to be a success. (1) developing economies will have to agree to major cuts in emissions (2) developing economies will have to limit their future emissions (3) developing economies will have to lend a helping hand in terms of finance and technology[9]. “Business leaders will be keeping a close eye on Copenhagen in December. Three-quarters of respondents believe that a workable successor to the Kyoto Protocol is either ‘critical’ or ‘important’. Just 4% disagree. The consensus among executives is that the climate – change issue represents a major market failure. ‘We are not paying for many common goods, whether carbon or, often, water. If we are required to do so, we will optimise our usage’ says Mr Neath of Unilever. Government will have to intervene to create a pricing mechanism, which in an ideal world would apply everywhere. Without that, individual actions, however well meaning, are likely to be insufficient” [10].

The report concludes by saying that as the world enters what could be the toughest economic environment since the Second World War, that various companies have various inducements. It is suggested that cost reduction may become a priority and as such energy use may decline, also that companies will strive to achieve energy efficiency. However, the other side of the coin suggests that a fall in investment will slow more costly changes. “Companies polled ultimately believe that the state needs to step in, to create a level playing field with appropriate incentives and penalties if carbon reduction is to occur at the pace that scientists counsel. For those leading the talks at Copenhagen this December, the pressure is on” [11].

Royal Dutch/Shell

Royal Dutch/Shell group and its subsidiaries belong to a large number of lobbying organisations and have substantial access to government, particularly in the UK and the Netherlands.

Shell was formerly a member of the Global Climate Coalition (GCC): In 1998 Shell followed BP and left the GCC. While the GCC was an overt lobby against action on climate change, since it was sidelined, other lobby groups have come to the fore which are more subtle in their tactics.

As a multinational which attempts to maintain the ethical high ground, Shell takes a leading position within the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)[12]. Senior members of Royal Dutch/Shell Group wear their WBCSD hat, for example at the UN's COP climate summits.

The president of Royal Dutch and Chairman of Shell are entitled to sit at the Business Roundtable[13].

Shell also holds a position within the Centre for European Policy Studies[14](CEPS) Also belongs to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)[15] and the US Council for International Business (USCIB)[16].

From its website, the ICC heralds itself as "The only representative body that speaks with authority on behalf of enterprises from all sectors in every part of the world."[17].

ICC promotes free trade and the market economy with the conviction that "trade is a powerful force for peace and prosperity"[18]. 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.[19].

Shell in the United States, and over 300 other American corporations belong to USCIB who are involved in lobbying the US government. The council was founded in 1945 "to promote an open system of world trade, investment and finance"[20]. Other prominent members of the council include: BP, the American Petroleum Institute, Coca-Cola, Chevron (oil Co.), Dupont (see Corporate Watch profile), General Electric, General Motors, Ford, McDonalds, Mobil, Monsanto, Nestle USA, Philip Morris (tobacco), Texaco (oil) and Unilever. The USCIB is the US affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organisation of Employers (IOE). Most significantly USCIB chairs the expert-group of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)[21].

The company is a member of the European Chemical Industry Council who brand themselves as "both the forum and the voice of the European chemical industry."[22]. CEFIC represents, directly or indirectly, about 40,000 chemical companies in Europe, companies which account for more than 30 per-cent of world chemicals production."[23]. The European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT), which includes Phil Watts of 'Shell Transport and Trading[24] 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. ERT Environment Working Group released a report on climate change in mid-October 2000, prior to COP6 in the Hague: "Climate Change: How Government and Industry can Work Together"[25].

Shell is represented on a number of government QUANGOs in the UK: the Renewable Energy Taskforce, Advisory committee on Business and the Environment, Oil and Pipelines Agency (within the Ministry of Defence), Sustainable Development Education Panel, and the European Environmental Agency.

Affiliations

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

Centre for European Policy Studies

Shell holds a position within the Centre for European Policy Studies[26]. 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.[27]. At the core of CEPS, is the International Advisory Council (IAC)[28]. 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 European Round Table of Industrialists (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 European Round Table. It is an informal forum bringing together around 45 chief executives of major multinational companies[29].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” [30].

European Chemical Industry Council

Shell 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”[31]. 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 World Business Council for Sustainable Development 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.” [32] Like many other multinationals Shell attempts to gain the higher ethical ground, it therefore takes a leading role within the WBCSD[33].

International Chamber of Commerce & US Council for International Business

Along with Shell, B.P also is a member of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)[34], and the USCIB[35]. 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” [36]. 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 [37] . The USCIB is involved in lobbying the US government, and Shell, along with approx 300 other companies utilise the council “to promote an open system of world trade, investment and finance”[38].

American Petroleum Institute

The American Petroleum Institute (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”[39]. 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[40]. 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.[41].

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[42]. 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[43]

Official stance

"The Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) The most newsworthy climate session was structured as a call to action featuring former VP Al Gore, UNSG Ban Ki-Moon, UNFCCC Yvo de Boer, Danish PM Fogh Rasmussen, Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer, and Swiss Re CEO Jaques Algrain. Shell CEO van der Veer called for an a global agreement where developed countries take on obligatory cuts, and developing countries are included through sector agreements. He referred to Carbon Capture and Storage as an interesting technology with huge potential, but hampered by cost and lots of uncertainty. He said it could, at best, be a bridge to a future of renewable energy."[44],

"Jeroen van der Veer, Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell, chairs the Energy and Climate Change working group of the European Round Table of Industrialists. According to him several specific policy initiatives could help government and society better harness companies’ agility and innovative power in the quest to control greenhouse-gas emissions: Agreements among groups of key countries to reduce emissions in specific industrial sectors; Incentives for companies to capture CO2 and store it safely underground, accelerating the deployment of this promising technology; Technology funds to support the development and commercial demonstration of new technologies, such as advanced biofuels, with high potential for lowering CO2 emissions. Until now, negotiators have aimed for a global deal palatable to developed and developing countries alike. While that remains the ultimate goal, it has so far proven devilishly complex to formulate." [45],

Greenwash

In the face of current public hostility towards Esso[46], Shell is making renewed efforts (December 2001) to differentiate itself from the dirty dog of the industry. A series of newspaper adverts[47]. portray Shell as a caring, listening company - part of an already established public face for the company, for example with its community-aware "Flares out in 2008" program in Nigeria[48]. This public face ignores the group's ambitious targets for increased production of fossil fuels.

Shell has further greened its image by being seen to talk with NGOs (Non-Govenmental Organisations) most notably and most controversially Amnesty International.

Shell also fully supports the activities of the International Emissions Trading Association which is a strong lobby group advacating Carbon Trading. Some environmentalists agrue that this is pure Greenwash, see Carbon Trading for details.

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.





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References

Notes

All sites accessed April 2009

  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. Shell UK Website , accessed April 2009
  7. Shell UK Website, accessed April 2009
  8. Economist Intelligence Unit, "Countdown to Copenhagen: Government, Business and the battle against climate cahnge" Shell UK Website , Accessed April 2009
  9. Economist Intelligence Unit, "Countdown to Copenhagen: Government, Business and the battle against climate cahnge" Shell UK Website , Accessed April 2009
  10. Economist Intelligence Unit, "Countdown to Copenhagen: Government, Business and the battle against climate cahnge" Shell UK Website , Accessed April 2009
  11. Economist Intelligence Unit, "Countdown to Copenhagen: Government, Business and the battle against climate cahnge" Shell UK Website , Accessed April 2009
  12. World Business Council for Sustainable Development website, accessed April 2009
  13. World Business Council for Sustainable Development website, accessed April 2009
  14. Centre for European Policy Studies Website, Accessed April 2009
  15. International Chamber of Commerce Website, Accessed April 2009
  16. US Council for International Business Website, Accessed April 2009
  17. Centre for European Policy Studies Website, Accessed April 2009
  18. Centre for European Policy Studies Website, Accessed April 2009
  19. Centre for European Policy Studies Website, Accessed April 2009
  20. US Council for International Business Website, Accessed April 2009
  21. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Website, Accessed April 2009
  22. The European Chemical Industry Council Website, Accessed April 2009
  23. The European Chemical Industry Council Website, Accessed April 2009
  24. Corporate Watch Website, Accessed April 2009
  25. Corporate Watch Website, Accessed April 2009
  26. Centre for European Policy Studies website, accessed April 2009
  27. Corporate Watch Website, accessed April 2009
  28. Centre for European Policy Studies website, accessed April 2009
  29. European Round Table of Industrialists Website, Accessed April 2009
  30. Corporate Watch Website , Accessed April 2009
  31. European Chemical Industry Council Website, accessed April 2009
  32. World Business Council for Sustainable Development Website, Accessed April 2009
  33. World Business Council for Sustainable Development Website, Accessed April 2009
  34. International Chamber of Commerce Website, Accessed April 2009
  35. US Council for International Business Website, Accessed April 2009
  36. International Chamber of Commerce Website, Accessed April 2009
  37. International Chamber of Commerce Website, Accessed April 2009
  38. US Council for International Business Website, Accessed April 2009
  39. American Petroleum Institute Website, Accessed April 2009
  40. Source Watch Website, Accessed April 2009
  41. Exxon Secrets Website, April 2009
  42. UK Round Table on Sustainable Development Website, Accessed April 2009
  43. UK Round Table on Sustainable Development Website, Accessed April 2009
  44. "Davos Climate roundup", Climatico, accessed 13 Febuary 2009
  45. "UN Climate Change Conference 2009 Website, Accessed April 2009
  46. Stop Esso Website, Accessed April 2009
  47. Corporate Watch Website, Accessed April 2009
  48. Corporate Watch Website, Accessed April 2009