Corporations Given a Platform to Promote Greenwash 31 Times at the UN Climate Talks

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Campaigner holds polluters out of COP sign

The annual UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland, are drawing to a close. But over the conference’s two weeks, major polluters have been given the platform to promote a climate-friendly image at more than 30 events, new analysis by NGO Climate Tracker reveals.

Negotiators are in the coal mining town of Katowice, Poland, to try and establish a rulebook to guide countries’ implementation of the landmark Paris climate change agreement. Around 22,000 delegates are present at the conference, known as COP24.

Companies have taken advantage of having so many climate specialists in one place to promote their climate-friendly activities, even if their business model remains reliant on polluting practices.

Coal, oil, gas and mining companies have participated in 31 events over the course of the conference, according to Climate Tracker’s analysis: From Latin America’s largest petrochemical company, Braskem, discussing how Brazil would adapt to climate change, to Indonesia’s biggest oil, gas and mining company presenting on the nation’s renewable energy future.

DeSmog UK previously reported how Polish coal company JSW, which is sponsoring COP24, presented its plan for boosting its coking coal prospects on Tuesday - by renaming the fuel.

Big oil companies such as BP, Chevron, Rio Tinto, Eni, Total and Shell, have also been seeking to influence the negotiations through trade associations such as the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA). In particular, the fossil fuel companies have been participating in discussions around a carbon market mechanism, known as Article 6, which allows companies and countries to reduce their emissions by buying credits for emissions reduction that is happening elsewhere.

It’s not just fossil fuel companies that are pushing a greener image at the talks, however. Representatives of the fashion, sports, and tourism industries are also participating on the fringes of the climate conference.

Taylor Billings, a press officer for NGO Corporate Accountability, said the corporate events showed the actual negotiations “were playing second fiddle to the corporate tradeshow happening just down the halls”.

It’s clear fossil fuel corporations see this as a one-stop shop to obstruct the negotiations and sell their products. While countries may be arguing in the negotiations, it’s clear many of them agree on promoting oil, gas and coal corporations at their exhibits”, she said in a statement.

Companies’ activities haven’t been confined to outside the negotiating halls at COP24. DeSmog UK previously revealed that 35 delegates from a coalition of four countries that blocked the ‘welcoming’ of a major climate science report had strong ties to the fossil fuel industry.

Protestors have regularly interupted events to call out governments and companies they perceive to be greenwashing. On Monday, protestors stormed the stage of a US event chanting “shame on you”, and calling on the country's delegation to stop promoting fossil fuels at the climate negotiations. Activists also interrupted an event by gas lobby group GasNaturally, and disrupted an announcement made by UK climate minister Claire Perry.

As recognition of major polluters’ role in the climate negotiations grows, so does a reluctance to invest in the companies.

Campaign group announced that more institutions had signed up to divest from fossil fuels during the conference, taking the total number of organisations to make the pledge to over 1000. Collectively, the institutions manage investments worth almost $8 trillion, it said.

Image: Chloe Farand

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