Climate summit closed to civil society, but remains open to big business

Climate summit closed to civil society, but remains open to big business

By Belen Balanya

Yesterday hundreds of activists were beaten and arrested in the streets of Copenhagen and Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth and other NGOs were banned from the Bella Center, where the UN negotiations take place. But this morning, representatives of big business were inside the Bella Center having a high-level breakfast with 10 ministers, an event jointly organised by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the UNFCCC. The WBCSD has 230 accredited delegates in Copenhagen.

The WBCSD’s President Björn Stigson hosted today’s breakfast with summit chair Yvo de Boer, and his message, according to the WBCSD, is a ‘simple one’: “You (governments) will not tackle climate change without business at the table as an engaged, involved partner. Governments cannot deliver the targets which are being talked about without business.”

Later in the morning the WBCSD co-organised another event in the Bella Center to discuss “Private Sector and the UNFCC: Options for Institutional Engagement”. The event title is more than wishful thinking. Only a few weeks ago the EU awarded a contract to the WBCSD and consultanciesEcofys and Climate Focus to do a study that should “define options for formal engagement of the private sector within the UNFCCC process”.

The EU has also been promoting this initiative during the summit. On 12 December, an event on Private Sector Engagement in the International Climate Change Policy Process took place in the EU pavilion in the Bella Center, co-organised by the Commission, DG Enterprise and the three groups contracted to do the study.

The WBCSD’s privileged access today to the Bella Center and to high-level decision-makers and the fact that the EU is funding the WBCSD to make proposals for involving business even closer in international climate talks is outrageous and unacceptable. Since its foundation in 1992, the WBCSD has only been advocating industry self-regulation, a global carbon market and false solutions like nuclear energy, agrofuels, coal (CCS) and carbon credits from plantation forests.

The EU’s and the UN’s preferential treatment of the WBCSD are deeply flawed. Effective and just climate policies are only possible if governments keep a healthy distance from companies that have a direct economic interest in the decisions taken.

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