european union

The Koch and Exxon Funded Think Tanks Supporting, and Being Courted by, Britain’s Brexit Campaigners

Owen Paterson speaking at the Heritage Foundation

The Republican National Convention kicks off this week in Cleveland, Ohio and among the crowd clamouring to see Donald Trump will be one man who crossed the Atlantic to be there: Nigel Farage.

The former head of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) helped lead Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (EU) and is famous for saying last year “I haven’t got a clue whether climate change is being driven by carbon-dioxide emissions.”

But he’s made the trip this week to deliver a message to Republicans that the UK’s vote to leave the EU, or ‘Brexit’, holds lessons for America.

A Quarter of European Countries Have Now Quit Coal

Europe’s coal industry continues its downward spiral as a quarter of European Union countries have now closed their doors to the dirty energy source.

Belgium has become the latest country to shut down its last remaining coal-fired power station, Langerlo.

Announced on 30 March, Belgium follows Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta and the Baltic countries in quitting the polluting fossil fuel.

The closure of Belgium’s Langerlo plant comes hot-on-the-heels of Scotland closing Britain’s largest coal-fired power station, Longannet, signalling the end of an era for Scottish coal.

EU to Exxon: TTIP Trade Deal Will Help Your Global Fossil Fuel Expansion

New documents reveal that the European Commission assured ExxonMobil at the very start of negotiations on the major US-EU free trade deal that the deal would help remove obstacles to expanding fossil fuel development in Africa and South America.

The documents, obtained by the Guardian, show that in October 2013 – just three months into negotiations – trade commissioner Karel de Gucht held an hour-long conversation with Exxon in which he told the oil giant that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would ease its concerns about restrictive regulations in developing countries.

As a briefing paper for de Gucht reads: “TTIP is perhaps more relevant as setting a precedent vis-a-vis third countries than governing trade and investment bilaterally.

Everything You Need To Know About The EU Lobby Groups Linked To Exxon

This is the third part of DeSmog UK’s series mapping Exxon’s ties to EU think tanks and lobby groups. Here we explore the various Brussels lobby groups the oil giant is a member of. Read part 1 and part 2 here.

Pressure is mounting on ExxonMobil to explain why the oil giant funded climate denial around the world years after its own scientists established global warming was real.

Exxon has a long history of funding climate denial and last September it was revealed that it did so despite a full scientific knowledge about the impacts of manmade climate change in the 1970s’ and ‘80s.

This prompted the New York Attorney General to subpoena ExxonMobil to “determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how those risks might hurt the oil business.” A similar investigation has also been launched in California.

These revelations tell us what Exxon knew. The investigations in New York and California are asking ‘what did Exxon do?’

ExxonMobil Spent At Least £5.6m on European Lobbying and Corporate Donations in 2014

ExxonMobil has spent at least £5.6m ($8.08 million) on lobbying the European Commission and in donations to European universities and organisations in 2014 according to the most recent figures available.

A DeSmog UK investigation into the oil giant’s European activities reveals much of this was spent lobbying on energy and environment issues in addition to donations to organisations such as the United Nations Environment Programme and the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

Last September, Inside Climate News revealed that ExxonMobil knew about the impacts of manmade climate change in the 1970s’ and ‘80s yet went on to fund numerous climate denial efforts. This prompted the New York Attorney General to subpoena ExxonMobil to “determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how those risks might hurt the oil business.”

Why Are Climate Deniers Campaigning for Britain to Leave the EU?

Climate change deniers are quickly becoming some of Britain’s most vocal Eurosceptics.

Prominent climate deniers including Matt Ridley, Owen Paterson, Lord Lawson, and James Delingpole join the roughly 50 per cent of the British public who are in favour of the UK leaving the European Union.

Last spring, Prime Minister David Cameron promised in his Conservative Party election manifesto to hold a referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU. It is expected that an in-out referendum will be held before the end of 2017.

But what does this group of anti-greens stand to gain from a ‘Brexit’? Does the UK leaving the EU simply fall in line with their general politics, or is there a more specific ‘brown’ agenda at play?

Big Oil Argued for U.S. Crude Exports to Fend Off Iran, But First Exporter Vitol Group Also Exported Iran's Oil

The American Petroleum Institute (API) successfully lobbied for an end to the 40-year ban on exporting U.S.-produced crude oil in part by making a geopolitical argument: Iran and Russia have the ability to export their oil, so why not unleash America?

What API never mentioned — nor the politicians parroting its talking points — is that many of its member companies maintain ongoing business ties with both Russia and Iran.

And The Vitol Groupthe first company set to export U.S. crude after the lifting of the ban (in a tanker destined for Switzerland), has or had its own ties to both U.S. geopolitical rivals.

How Shell Lobbied to Stop EU Renewable Energy Targets

This has been cross-posted from Energydesk.

A group of the EU’s largest energy companies – including oil and gas giants Shell and Norway’s Statoil – formed an alliance to lobby against a new EU renewable target according to documents seen by Energydesk.

The lobbying group may surprise few, but comes after it was revealed that Shell started lobbying the EU two years earlier for a policy which favoured gas over renewables, claiming “Gas is good for Europe”.

That claim, however, came before the Ukraine crisis raised concerns about gas supply in EU countries.

Is Koch Industries Lobbying the EU Over Natural Gas?

America’s largest privately owned energy company, Koch Industries, has been lobbying on “energy markets/financial regulation” reveals new data released by the interactive lobby database, EU Integrity Watch launched at the end of June.

On 28 April, Koch’s lobbyist met with Lee Foulger, an EU cabinet member working under European Commissioner Jonathan Hill. Hill’s team works on financial stability, financial services and the Capital Markets Union – Europe's flagship project to build a single finance market for all 28 Member States.

According to the database, this is the only lobby meeting the representative for Koch’s legal, lobbying and public affairs arm – known as Koch Companies Public Sectors – has had in the last six months with a member of the European commission. Meetings prior to December 2014 are not available online.

Are the Koch Brothers Trying to Influence TTIP Negotiations?

The latest release of lobbying data on the European Commission’s Transparency Register has raised concerns that the fossil-fuelled Kochs are trying to influence the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.

Digging through the data, DeSmog UK found that the European arm of Koch Industry’s legal, lobbying and public affairs branch – known as Koch Companies Public Sector LLC – has spent up to £0.5m lobbying EU policymakers on the environment, energy and free trade.

And according to the voluntary register, Koch Industries – the largest privately owned energy company in the United States, known for funding climate denial groups – has a particular interest in lobbying on the “EU’s free trade agreement negotiations.”

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