Washington/London, August 15, 2002 – Leading US Republican Party and conservative lobbyists – many funded by Exxon Mobil – have combined to try to stop progress at the Johannesburg Earth Summit.

Environment pressure group Friends of the Earth obtained a letter sent to President George W Bush by 31 political groups and individuals who demand that he not attend the Johannesburg Earth Summit and who call on him to ensure that his negotiators prevent any progress on climate change.
The letter, dated August 2nd, says “we applaud your decision not to attend the Summit in person … Even more than the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, the Johannesburg Summit will provide a global media stage for many of the most irresponsible and destructive elements involved in critical international economic and environmental issues. Your presence would only help to publicize and make more credible various anti-freedom, anti-people, anti-globalization, and anti-Western agendas.”

Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) vice-chair Tony Juniper commented: “This letter casts a grim light on the iron triangle of the Bush White House, corporate polluters such as Exxon Mobil, and conservative lobbyists. They are determined to block any progress at the Johannesburg Summit.”

The letter also claims that “the least important global environmental issue is potential global warming and we hope that your negotiators at Johannesburg can keep it off the table and out of the spotlight.” And the letter also says that “in our view the worst possible outcome at Johannesburg would be taking any steps towards creating a World Environmental Organization, as the European Union has suggested”.

Signatories include:
* Fred L Smith and Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute
– funding from Exxon $280,000 in 2001
* Craig Rucker from the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT)
– funding from Exxon $35,000 in 2001
* Steven Hayward from the American Enterprise Institute
– funding from Exxon $230,000 in 2001
* Terrence Scanlon from the Capital Research Center
– funding from Exxon $25,000 in 2001
* Joseph L Bast of the Heartland Institute
– funding from Exxon $90,000 in 2001
* Deroy Murdock of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation (AERF)
– funding from Exxon $150,000 in 2001
* H Stirling Burnett of the National Center for Policy Analysis
– funding from Exxon $20,000 in 2001

Many of these groups have long been active in trying to frustrate progress on tackling man-made climate change and other global environmental crises. For example, the CFACT sent fifty “trained” Republican students to the Bonn climate talks in 2001 to demonstrate against the Kyoto Treaty. The AERF promotes and supports the work of leading US climate sceptic S Fred Singer.

Friends of the Earth International vice-chair Tony Juniper added: “Corporate polluters such as Exxon Mobil and conservative lobbyists have already leaned on President Bush not even to show up, and are now demanding that his negotiators do their best to wreck any hope of agreement. These lobbyists cannot live off the support of ordinary citizens – who would react with incredulity or anger to their claims that climate change is an issue of no importance.”

“So they rely instead on handouts from corporations such as Exxon. Exxon doesn’t have the courage to promote its political agenda directly. So it relies on the lobbyists to do its dirty work. The case for a binding international agreement to control the behaviour of destructive corporations has never looked stronger,” added Juniper.

FoEI is calling for binding coporate accountability, including rights for citizens and communities and liability and duties for corporations. For more information visit www.foei.org/corporates

Friends of the Earth International (FoEI):
Contact Daniel Mittler (FoEI Earth Summit campaign coordinator)
for Earth Summit enquiries at +49-173-9234747
Friends of the Earth International vice-chair in London Tony Juniper:
+44-20-7490 1555
FoE US: Mark Helm, media relations, +1-202-7837400 ext 102

[1] Friends of the Earth is a member of the Stop Esso Campaign, launched with fellow coalition members Greenpeace and People & Planet in response to the US withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol in Spring 2001. ExxonMobil were the most prominent members of the fossil fuel lobby opposing US involvement in the vital Kyoto climate treaty