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DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, 8 December 2011 – One day before the close of the UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa, Friends of the Earth International released the second in a series of case studies highlighting how polluting companies, multinational corporations and financial elites are seeking to undermine government action on climate change [1].

The new case study released today [2] looks at the lobbying activities and political agenda of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), the international carbon trading business association which represents a range of energy-intensive industries and global financial actors and their interests.

The IETA is extremely active in the international climate negotiations, carrying out lobby activities and side events aimed at promoting the uptake and expansion of carbon trading globally.

Carbon trading is a false solution to the climate crisis. All existing and planned carbon trading schemes are based on offsetting – an escape hatch for industrialised countries and polluting industries from the deep and urgent emissions reductions that are needed to stop the climate crisis getting worse.[3]

The new series of case studies aims to expose how, in the area of climate policy and beyond, government positions have been increasingly hijacked by narrow corporate interests linked to polluting industries and industries which are seeking to profit from the climate crisis. This corporate and elite capture of political decision-making is a key factor in the failure of governments to take urgent action to avoid catastrophic climate change.

The key findings of the case study released today include that

The IETA’s president Henry Derwent is a former British civil servant who only underwent a ‘cooling off’ period of 6 months before commencing lobbying activities targeting the British government, despite the best practice requiring a minimum period of two years

The IETA has registered 159 lobbyists to attend the COP 17 climate talks in Durban South Africa, including financial speculators, and representatives from banks, carbon consultancies and energy companies

The IETA is pushing for the continuation of the failed Clean Development Mechanism, an escape hatch for developed country emissions reductions which is contributing to the locking in of polluting industry and dirty development paths, and negatively impacting local communities and their environment.

The IETA is also pushing for the creation of dangerous new carbon trading mechanisms that would lock in further delays in emissions cuts, as well as the further deregulation of the global carbon market.

Sarah-Jayne Clifton, Climate Justice & Energy Coordinator for Friends of the Earth International said: “IETA has a clear political agenda to capitalise on the climate crisis and expand the dangerous false solution of carbon trading. A great deal of evidence now shows that carbon trading is not working, but the IETA ignores this and invests significant resources to try and convince governments to expand the global carbon market.”

“The story of IETA in the climate negotiations is replicated across many environmental policy areas. Instead of listening to corporate interests, governments should prioritise the interests of ordinary people and communities around the world. They must commit to the ambitious emissions cuts that we need to tackle the climate crisis in line with justice and equity, and ignore the pressure for inaction and dangerous distractions that is coming from polluting industry and other parts of the corporate world” she continued.


Sarah-Jayne Clifton, Climate Justice & Energy Coordinator for Friends of the Earth International


[1] The first case study, released on Wednesday 6 December, exposed the climate positions and practices of the South African energy giant Sasol

[2] Access the IETA case study released today

[3] A background briefing on carbon trading