Everyone needs to take part in the battle against climate change, and we all agree that includes the private sector. Still, it was a shock to learn that the COP Presidency invited fossil industries to sponsor these climate talks, even while these very same companies do their utmost to fight against climate policies.
Corporate sponsorships to 'brand' stadiums have been around for a while. All the same, ECO wasn't quite ready for this new trend at the COP. Branding is all about visibility and alliances. And money. So what message are we seeing here in Warsaw?
Just look around you. Fossil industry logos are everywhere in the conference center – on the water dispensers, in the meeting hall and on the welcome bags for COP guests. And the USB stick – you guessed it! It’s full of presentations about the “excellent” environmental performance of these companies! But somehow the most important facts are missing:
* Alstom and PGE (the Polish majority state-owned energy utility) plan to build a huge new 1,800 MW coal power plant in Poland – a monster which would emit about 350 million tonnes of CO2 in its lifetime.
* The car maker BMW made headlines recently because of its generous donations to Ms. Merkel’s party, the political player who watered down the latest EU-wide regulation to reduce CO2 pollution from cars.
* Arcelor Mittal, a global behemoth, was not only a tireless lobbyist against ambitious EU climate legislation, but has also been vocally against carbon pricing regulation in South Africa.
Of course, bags and pens aren’t really what we need from these companies. Instead, the best gift would be to keep the fossils in the ground – and fossil interests out of climate negotiations.