By Boaz Opio
Do you ever wonder why despite all efforts global climate change activism put in stamping out dirty energy productions, there seems to be a resisting, highly biased force halting governments’ renewable energy development efforts?
If you do, you are not alone. This is the same reason there is already strong, diverse coalition of groups supporting climate action in Paris to keep pressure on governments to deliver an ambitious agreement, and to keep the fossil fuel industry in check in great suspicion that dirty energy companies are attempting to hold back the turning tides. While International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) holds a strong consensus that the cost of generating power from renewable energy sources has dropped below the cost of fossil fuels for many technologies in many parts of the world, outcomes of struggles to phase out fossil fuels are still questionable.
Even the world’s major polluters of G7 called for a global phase-out of fossil fuels for the first time early this year, unfortunately it was full of reservations distorting to global climate change energies. The leaders instead committed to “doing our part to achieve a low-carbon global economy in the long-term,” and didn’t announce any increased ambitions in cutting carbon in their own economies. Reports indicated that bolder statements were hitherto considered, including a call to decarbonize the G7 economies by 2050, but all these ambitions were strangely dropped.
It is, however, gladdening that nearly 400,000 people have signed a petition to bar “big polluters” from the talks this year.
The petition, organised by Corporate Accountability International, urges the forthcoming summit to be secure corporate interests and become a stage for companies intending to “block progress, push aside silver bullets and continue the disastrous status quo.” This is just one of a number of public efforts designed to showcase the negative influence of industry groups on climate talks, their historic climate skepticisms and a growing international impatience for meaningful climate action.
Though reports by EcoWatch, a global climate watchdog indicates the top 10 emitters contribute 72 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions (excluding land use change and forestry), and that the other lowest 100 emitters contribute less than 3 percent, a universal climate action is particularly necessary, if significant successes is to stem from Paris. This is because developing; low emission countries in Africa and elsewhere needn’t be sidelined at the challenge course as these countries have blindly embarked on gigantic oil investments that could overstep future renewable energy paths. Coupled with undue favour oil companies have recently received globally, renewable energy development is utterly shrieked.
The Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates the annual value of subsidies for 2010-15 at between $160 billion and $200 billion, mostly for petroleum products, in the 34 OECD nations and China, India, Brazil, Russia, Indonesia and South Africa. The Group of 20 leading economies agreed as long ago as 2009 to phase out inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels, but the troublesome products still win unwarranted favours by governments.
These undue favours are considered the offspring of a deeply rooted climate change countermovement. "The climate change countermovement has had a real political and ecological impact on the failure of the world to act on global warming," noted a study by Drexel University environmental sociologist Robert Brulle in his first academic effort to probe the organizational underpinnings and funding behind the climate denial movement.
According to Brulle, the largest and most consistent funders where a number of conservative foundations promoting "ultra-free-market ideas,” In all, 140 foundations across the world funneled $558 million to nearly 100 climate denial organizations from 2003 to 2010.
In 2011, the Polaris Institute released a report outlining how “multinational corporations and their lobbyists have infiltrated the United Nations and are influencing the outcomes of climate negotiations.” The report condemns the negative impacts corporations’ influence the United Nations in the build up to and during the Lima climate change negotiations and how the fossil fuel companies’ interest is the driving ‘dark’ force behind the undue market based initiatives that are emerging from the UNFCCC process.
Though earlier ‘dark’ funders like ExxonMobil, which secretly spent $16m between 1998 and 2005 to fund organisations that spread disinformation about climate science now prominently acknowledge on their website that “rising greenhouse gas emissions pose significant risks to society and ecosystems,” the global society is still streaked with trails of their quondam activities.
Information about climate justice hasn’t yet penetrated every local community and the situation is worse with developing countries like Uganda. As a consequence, poor local people affected by the environmental activities of the rich capitalists are often denied of their rights to live in decent environments free from pollution as well as the avenues to express their voices.
Thus, blocking fossil fuel companies and their bad behaviours must remain on top agenda of the Paris Climate Negotiations, and is key to ensure a double win for the biggest ever climate congregation: a win for global cooling and a win for renewable energy development.
The writer is an environmentalist
Why Paris Climate agreement should block fossil fuels