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Anne-Marie Mineur: How the opponents of a climate agreement got such a very big platform

8 December 2015

Anne-Marie Mineur: How the opponents of a climate agreement got such a very big platform

The big shots have left the climate summit, so the real work can now begin. Last week the world’s leaders gave fiery speeches, speeches which made the front pages. Behind the scenes officials worked day and night on a new proposal for a negotiating text. This text reads like a sort of menu: the ingredients are to hand, now choices have to be made.

What’s striking is the rather selective nature of the organisation when it comes to whom they admit to the select company allowed to wander around the climate conference. At the entrance to the conference venue I immediately came across a large board on which the sponsors were thanked. Logically enough, the French state railway SNCF and the French Post Office were on the list of names, but it came as a surprise that the names of the major opponents of a climate agreement were also amongst the event’s co-financers.

Renault-Nissan is out on the car park with its electric cars. A fine image, but the boss of Renault-Nissan is at the same time the public face of auto lobby organisation ACEA, which advocates lower European emissions targets for cars. Engle is the owner of thirty nuclear power stations while Suez lobbies persuasively for shale gas. Despite this, the red carpet is out for these corporations. Not only do they sit on the front row, but also they’re also up at the table with UN bigwigs such as Bang Ki Moon and Christina Figueres.

In the wake of the Paris attacks security has been cranked up to the highest level. The conference is, then, an exceptionally interesting target. The world’s leaders might have gone home, but environment ministers have just flown in to take the real decisions. That the organisers want to reduce the pressure a little and have therefore set a maximum of thirty-five protesters is understandable enough. That the police want to see their banners in advance is harder to explain. And that the people were arrested and carted off simply for speaking their mind at one of the many meetings can have no connection whatsoever to the security situation.

When the negotiators are pampered by the opponents of a strong climate agreement, while supporters of such an accord are kept outside for reasons which can’t be well explained, you have to ask yourself how the deal is going to be balanced . In the next few days I’ll be showing how the various interests at the COP21 are represented.

SP Euro-MP Anne-Marie Mineur is at the Climate Summit as one of fifteen representatives of the European Parliament. This column first appeared, in the original Dutch, at www.oneworld.nl

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