Dec 02, 2010
RWE (npower), Goldman Sachs and derivatives lobby group ISDA have been given the dubious honour of being named the Worst EU Lobbyists of 2010. The results of the dual climate and finance categories of the Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2010 have been revealed during a ceremony outside the ISDA office in Brussels.
Citizens across Europe participated in an online public vote for the most deserving of the climate and finance nominees. Voters sent a clear message to EU transparency and ethics Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič that a major clean-up of the Brussels lobbying scene is urgently needed, and it’s time the European Commission put public interest above the commercial interests of large companies.
In the climate category, German energy giant RWE’s subsidiary npower, nominated for claiming to be green while lobbying to keep its dirty coal- and oil-fired power plants open, won with 58% of the total vote. BusinessEurope, nominated for its aggressive lobbying to block effective climate action in the EU while claiming to support action to protect the climate, took second place with 24% of the total votes and Arcelor-Mittal, the steel Industry "fat cat", came in third with 18% of the total votes.
Nina Katzemich, speaking for the organisers of the 2010 Worst EU Lobbying Awards, said: "These awards show that people around Europe are fed up with deceptive lobbying practices used by big business when it comes to climate regulation. RWE claims to be green but has pulled out all the stops to keep its dirty power plants open, promoting their profits over public interests. If the European Commission is serious about tackling climate change, it must stop listening one-sidedly to corporations. It can make a new start – now, in Cancun.”
In the finance category, Goldman Sachs and derivatives lobby group ISDA, nominated for aggressive lobbying to defend their ‘financial weapons of mass destruction’, took first place with 59% of the total vote. Royal Bank of Scotland (23%) took second, nominated for secretly lobbying in Brussels and for exploiting insider contacts. Hedge funds and private equity lobby groups AIMA and EVCA (18%) took third, nominated for deceptive lobbying to block regulation of damaging speculation in the financial sector.
Paul de Clerck friends of the Earth International corporates campaigner said:
"Despite the unprecedented crisis following the financial meltdown, intense lobbying by large banks and investment firms continues to delay and seriously water-down much-needed regulatory reforms. While people around the world are suffering severe consequences, corporate lobbyists are blocking any measure that could limit the massive profits of banks. This is unacceptable. We call on the European Commission to put an end to the privileged access granted to big business, for instance limiting their access to EU advisory groups on future financial regulation."
The awards are part of an ongoing campaign to expose and counter dirty lobbying tactics and privileged access impacting on EU decision-making.
For more information about this year’s nominees, and to follow future developments, please visit: www.worstlobby.eu
Sep 16, 2010
Friends of the Earth Mozambique / Environmental Justice are fighting one of the country's most powerful businesses, an aluminium producer, which has been granted permission to pollute the air for six months.
Mozal the company that owns the Aliminium smelter, one of the largest in the world, is refurbishing its smoke and gas treatment centres (filters) and have asked the government for the right to carry on production without these treatment centres in place.
Environmental groups in Mozambique, including Environmental Justice (JA!), have said that the unfiltered fumes being pumped out of the smelter will affect towns and villages within 40-100 kilometres from the source causing a serious risk to public health.
According to JA! the unfiltered substances being released from the smelter can cause severe irritation to the skin, eyes, airways and an increased risk of lung cancer.
JA! and other environmental groups in the Mozambique are lobbying the government and Mozal for there to be a public debate on the serious issue.
To date there has not been an Environmental Impact Assessment and therefore it's unclear to everyone what the impact will be of operating without filters. However, JA! can only conclude that the filters, when in place, significantly reduce air pollution or Mozal would not be investing $10 million in their renovation.
In addition, JA! have looked at a similar case, from October 2004, at a smelter in South Africa owned by Mozal's parent company BHP Billiton.
In that instance the filters were put out of service for only 72 hours and the company issue issued a press release calling for "people with asthma and others with respiratory problems, or who have low tolerance for smoke and dust, to remain indoors".
Now BHP Billiton are claiming that they can perform the same operation for six months without any significant risk. This makes JA! question the difference of criteria and behaviour of BHP Billiton in South Africa and Mozambique.
JA! have collected more than 14,000 signatures calling for a public debate on the renovation project which is scheduled to go ahead in November 2010.
Jun 09, 2010
Support the campaign to introduce a tiny tax on bankers that would give billions to tackle poverty and climate change around the world.
The Robin Hood Tax is a tiny tax on banks and other financial institutions that would raise billions to tackle poverty and climate change, at home and abroad.
It can start as low as 0.005 per cent - and average 0.05 per cent . But when levied on the billions of dollars, pounds, euro and yen sloshing round the global finance system every day through transactions such as foreign exchange, derivatives trading and share deals, it can raise hundreds of billions of pounds every year.
What would it cover?
It would include transactions involving stocks, bonds, foreign exchange, and derivatives (including trade of futures and options related to stocks, interest rate securities, currencies and commodities).
It would cover all transactions traded on exchanges as well as off-exchange or "over the counter" (OTC).
It would be limited to transactions between financial market actors. Ordinary consumer transactions such as payments for goods, paychecks and cross-border remittances would not be subject to the Robin Hood Tax. Short-term inter-bank lending and central bank operations would also be excluded from the Robin Hood Tax.
Angela Merkel (the German Chancellor) and Nicolas Sarkozy (the French President) have all spoken out in support of a tax on financial transactions.
Plenty of business bigwigs are on-board too. Lord Turner (from the UK Financial Services Authority), George Soros (the philanthropist) and Warren Buffet (US businessman extraordinaire) have all backed transaction taxes. And then there are the hundreds of economists who have backed the idea, too.
This isn't some crazy pipedream. It's a simple and brilliant idea which transcends party politics and which - with your support - can become a reality.
Please sign the petition on the Friends of the Earth Europe website calling on the The Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to support the tax.
Take action and find out more
May 28, 2010
A meeting of the World Bank in Brussels on May 27 was targeted by campaigners who urged it to stop financing fossil fuel projects.
Activists gathered outside the meeting at which bankers, EU officials, industry representatives and other stakeholders were discussing the future of the bank’s energy lending. They staged a peaceful 'black comedy' and handed out dirty contracts for so-called 'clean coal' to expose the disastrous impacts of the bank’s financing on climate change and the world’s poorest people. Civil society representatives later went inside to participate in the consultation.
The World Bank has ear-marked massive funds for investment in fossil fuels, especially large coal projects. Between 2007 and 2009, the World Bank increased funding for fossil fuels by 22%. Since 2007 the World Bank Group has provided $6.6 billion for coal-based energy development. This strategy locks developing countries into carbon intensive energy models for decades instead of helping developing countries to make the transition to sustainable energy production.
The latest illustration of the bank's climate-damaging lending is the Eskom project in South Africa, to which the World Bank approved a $3.75 billion loan in April. Most of the money will be used for the building of the Medupi power plant, one of the largest and dirtiest coal fired plants in the world. Over 165 civil society groups and some governments were opposed to the World Bank loan to Eskom, because of its disastrous environmental and climate impacts, and as it will mainly benefit large foreign multinational corporations to the detriment of South Africans, perpetuating a serious energy apartheid in the country.
Anne-Sophie Simpère of Friends of the Earth France said:
"The World Bank should use its energy strategy review to stop financing fossil fuels and to redirect its investments to renewable energies and energy efficiency. The World Bank must make the needs of local communities and the global need to fight climate change paramount in its lending policy."
Similar demonstrations have taken place in South Africa and the United States.
May 06, 2010
A new report warns that global development of tar sands will magnify the climate crisis and damage the EU’s environment and development objectives.
Pressure is on high-level representatives from the EU and Canada to discuss the issue of tar sands and Europe’s aim to limit greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels through its Fuel Quality Directive. Political attention currently focuses on Canada as the major producer of oil from tar sands, but the new report reveals that investment by European oil companies – such as BP, Shell, Total and ENI – is expanding with developments around the world including in the Republic of Congo, Venezuela, Madagascar, Russia, Jordan and Egypt, with potentially disastrous consequences for the climate and local communities.
Read the report here
Darek Urbaniak, extractives campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said:
“Europe risks becoming a climate villain if it does not take effective action to prevent the entry of oil from tar sands into European markets. The environmental damage caused by tar sands may be outside the EU, but the trail of destruction leads to its door.”
The report reveals that the current EU proposal for the implementation of the Fuel Quality Directive does not penalise oil products from high-carbon sources, treating oil produced from tar sands as conventional oil. This could allow an influx of oil from tar sands – heavily criticised for its poor environmental and social record – into Europe.
Paul de Clerck, economic justice campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said:
“The Fuel Quality Directive is supposed to benefit the climate, but the latest proposal from the European Commission leaves the European market wide open for energy-intensive fuels produced from tar sands. The EU should be a global standard-setter, and should refrain from giving political or financial assistance to tar sands projects, instead incentivising low carbon projects like renewables.”
The vast infrastructure and capital requirements of tar sands (estimated around US$ 379 billion in the next 15 years in Canada alone) would be better spent financing the shift towards a low-carbon economy, and on efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals, the report says.