The climate conference and the corporate lobbyists dressed in green

Polluters have been given pride of place at COP21, right next to the national delegations.

Adam Ramsay
Adam Ramsay
1 December 2015

The climate talks in Paris are being held in a (now less used) airport. Once you've got your pass (remarkably quickly, I thought) you wander into the main centre. The first image you come to, on each side of the corridor, is a wall showing the sponsors.

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COP sponsors board, as seen on arrival. Photo: Adam Ramsay, CC2.0

In pride of place – top and centre – is EDF: the French mostly state owned company with numerous coal and gas power stations(pdf) churning carbon into the atmosphere across the world.

Turn left, and you find yourself in a vast room – what I assume was an airport terminal, or similar. Inside is a series of temporary rooms built out of plywood. “Delegate offices”, as they're called. It mostly looks like this. The white writing in the walls tells you who is in each room. In almost every case, it's a country.


The UK has one. Germany has one. Norway has one. Sometimes, it's groups of countries – Africa seems to have just one to share, opposite Germany's.


Panama seems to be sharing theirs with the Coalition of Rainforest Nations. And they had set up a display and a free juice bar outside theirs.


But head further in, and you find that, in the same room as these countries, there are a handful of other stands, for strange organisations I'd never heard of. “IETA” and “WBCSD” have lots of big signs saying “open for business”. It turns out the acronyms stand for “International Emissions Trading Organisation” and “World Business Council for Sustainable Development”.


The former has a huge list of members on their website, including BP, Shell, and the TransCanada Corporation, who hit the headlines recently when Obama turned down their KeystoneXL Pipeline.

The latter has a nice graphic of all its members on its website, showing their members also include BP and Shell, as well as the controversial Dow Chemicals, and many more big polluters.

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Their joint pamphlet tells us that the main partners for the event include American oil giant Chevron, a company which caused controversy when it refused even to sign up to support the measures proposed by the likes of BP and Shell.

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Here is the hangout area they are hosting, right next to all of the governments' delegations.

open for business.jpeg

Round the corner from them, these guys were also among the select few who got a space in with the government delegations.

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Dig around in their bumph, and you discover that this is effectively a stall for the Air Transport Action Group. Their members include Boeing, Airbus, and the International Air Transport Association, who themselves represent a huge number of the world's airlines. Given the contentious questions around highly polluting international flights at an international climate conference, it's not surprising that they'd be so keen to get their hands on such prime real-estate.

There are a couple of other organisations in this exclusive area: for example, the OECD have a space, where I snapped a quick picture of this somewhat male-dominated panel.

Oh, and, check out the gender balance on the OECD panel...

— Adam Ramsay (@AdamRamsay) November 30, 2015

Though, as they immediately responded...

@AdamRamsay Yes, by definition the panel is heads of multilateral devt banks. Work 2b done on gender balance in many high-level positions.

— OECD Livestream (@OECDlive) November 30, 2015

How much will all of this impact on the coverage? This space is the first you get to as you enter the venue, and is close to the journalists area. Wandering around the venue, it was the first room I found myself in; and the first people who had leaflets for me to pick up and space for me to sit around in were these corporate lobbyists. While business representatives were given pride of place, I've yet to find the NGO area. I'll keep you updated on events tomorrow.



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