Following yesterday’s news that there will be no global climate pact when international negotiators meet next month in Copenhagen, the Europeans today are saying it’s all President Obama’s fault.
But from where we sit — and let’s recall that Dateline Earth was a little grouchy at Obama early in his term about his less-than-laser focus on climate — there’s plenty of blame to go around.
Exhibit No. 1: The excellent report out today from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists outlining how industry lobbyists in eight pivotal countries torpedoed hopes for a climate treaty.
We heard about this from our friends at the Center for Public Integrity, which ran the effort to investigate the lobbying blitz. It’s an great example of a cooperative journalistic effort, with reporters digging up records and conducting interviews in China, India, Japan, the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada and the European Union.
Here’s how they describe some of their findings in a summary:
Employing thousands of lobbyists, millions in political contributions, and widespread fear tactics, entrenched interests worldwide are thwarting the steps that scientists say are needed to stave off a looming environmental calamity, the investigation found.
The overarching finding is that the same kind of lobbying that is going on in the United States by industries who perceive their future to be threatened in a sustainable-energy economy is being deployed worldwide to slow the march toward a global climate pact.
Here’s how the report summarizes a few — but not all — of their other findings:
• Both developed and developing countries are under heavy pressure by fossil fuel industries and other carbon-intensive businesses to slow progress on negotiations and weaken government commitments. The clash cannot simply be framed as one between richer and poorer nations.
• China’s moves to hasten development of renewable energy, Brazil’s pledges to curb Amazon deforestation, and other steps to address climate change in the developing world have prompted a strong pushback from domestic in-country interests determined to maintain the status quo.
• Powerful corporations are fielding multinational efforts to influence the debate, such as Peabody Coal, the world’s largest coal company, in Australia and the United States; and oil giant Exxon Mobil in Canada, the European Union, and the United States. Although largely operating at a national level, opponents of a strong climate change treaty are employing similar fear tactics worldwide, including threats of massive blackouts and job losses.
The whole report is worth a read. We should also point out that it’s the kind of cooperative reporting venture that’s becoming much more the norm now, especially in the investigative and environmental fields. Good show.
Check out how the report was done.
— Robert McClure
Robert, I’m interested to know who the “entrenched interests worldwide” are.
If it’s true that the CEO’s of the major multi-national corporations are hired by boards of directors, and that those boards of directors are appointed by majority shareholders of the corporations, then it should be possible to trace the names of those shareholders who determine the strategies, policies and corporate cultures in banking, oil, coal, auto, media, chemical, agribusiness, shipping, insurance, shipping, weapons, etc. I think that would be a fascinating investigation, and it would probably reveal that essentially the same few individuals and families own and control all those industries.
Given that they effectively determine our economic options and even what we can say and what we know and don’t know, it would be very helpful to know who they are, how they got to those positions, how they relate to each other and how they think. I’m not suggesting they should be punished, just that they should be daylighted so we can make decisions and strategies to bring our economies and philosophies under democratic control.