Fossil fuel firms force countries to compensate them, says Mary Robinson

Fossil fuel companies are forcing governments to compensate them for lost revenue in the transition to a low-carbon global economy and destroying the world’s ability to counter their harmful activities, former senior officials have warned. of the UN.

Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, who was a two-time UN climate envoy, said she was outraged by the activities of fossil fuel companies, including forcing governments into investment treaties that reward them with billions in compensation when countries reduce their dependence on oil and gas. and coal.

It’s worth looking at these investment treaties, there are a lot of them, 2,000 of different types, Robinson said. [Under their terms], if countries do the right thing about the climate, they should compensate fossil fuel companies. And they compensate to the tune of $62 billion (49 billion) over a five-year period. It’s another one of these hidden subsidies. I was outraged.

Several countries, including the UK, France, Germany and Spain, have opposed the energy charter treaty, which would have required the EU and other countries to cooperate on energy production. But many other such treaties are still in force, according to the OECD.

Robinson also warned that fossil fuel lobbyists had managed to severely undermine a hoped-for treaty on the plastic waste that is catastrophically polluting the oceans and increasingly obstructing annual UN climate talks.

We’ve seen their role in Cops, we’ve seen it for several years and it’s intensifying. That’s the problem, it’s a breakthrough, she warned. Last month’s plastics treaty was weakened, she said, as were plans for a global resolution to phase out fossil fuels at last years police summit in Dubai.

It is very clear that there was a lot of pressure in Dubai before we got the text that we got, she said. In the end result, Cop28 in Dubai did not mandate a complete cessation, but a weaker resolution to move away from fossil fuels, marking the first time that all countries have made such an agreement.

I was grateful that it was progress that wasn’t as much as we wanted, but it was at least progress, said Robinson, who now chairs the Elders group of former world leaders. It seems to be a reality that we have to do this [for tackling the climate crisis] in the context of heavy lobbying by interest groups against the progress we need.

She called for more transparency in lobbying at UN and government meetings.

Ban Ki-moon, who led the UN from 2007 to 2016 and is now vice-chairman of the Elders, also called on political leaders around the world to step up as more than half the world’s population goes to the polls in important elections this year.

Ban warned that the climate crisis was intensifying faster than expected and governments must redouble their efforts to keep up. He called for at least 1.2 trillion in investment to help developing countries make the transition to a low-carbon economy.

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Climate change is now approaching much, much faster than we might have thought. There is no time to waste. As a former general secretary, I think that if there is strong political will we can mobilize all this money, he said.

The US and China were among his biggest concerns, he said. Very important presidential elections will take place in the USA. I am worried about who will be elected, he said. President Trump was elected [in 2016]. What happened? He withdrew from the Paris climate agreement. So there was a big vacancy over four years when it comes to the US.

Talk of friction between the US and China was also very worrying, he added. Relations between the superpowers have been strained, as China has been accused of deliberately overproducing key goods, such as renewable energy components, in order to drive companies in the US and EU out of business.

When it comes to the global climate change agenda, they must cooperate. This kind of global agenda, which is very dangerous, should not be affected by a political dispute between the two countries, Ban said.

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