MEDIA BRIEFING, 25th October 2021
STOP THE REVOLVING DOOR: FOSSIL FUEL POLICYINFLUENCERS
Key figures: Between 2015 and 2021 6 fossil fuel giants (Shell, BP, Total, Equinor, ENI and Galp) and 5 of their lobby groups (Hydrogen Europe, Eurogas, FuelsEurope, IOGP, CEFIC):
We are already feeling the impacts of the climate emergency, with record storms, floods, droughts, and fires. Over two-thirds of man-made greenhouse gas emissions come from the fossil fuel industry, and its capture of our political systems is a major obstacle to tackling this crisis.
For decades fossil fuel companies have lobbied against effective climate action at national, EU, and international levels, blocking policies to cut emissions and leave fossil fuels in the ground. Their bag of lobbying tricks includes privileged access, huge lobby spending, and revolving doors. This is the corporate capture by the fossil fuel industry of the EU decision-making process, and the mainstreaming across all political institutions of its interests and priorities.
New research by Fossil Free Politics members Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth Europe and Food Water Action Europe, explores more than 70 revolving door cases between the public sector (national governments and agencies, EU, and international institutions) and just six Big Energy firms and five of their lobby groups between 2015 - 2021 (full data and methodology is here).
Below we highlight ten of the many cases of public servants and elected representatives who have gone through the revolving door to corporate jobs with fossil fuel companies or those who represent them, and officials moving to the public sphere from roles in these companies.
Despite the Paris Agreement commitments, as COP26 begins in Glasgow, there has still been no real action. To reach the Paris goal of keeping warming below 1.5°C almost 60 per cent of oil and gas reserves and 90 per cent of coal must remain in the ground. Yet big oil and gas majors have merely pledged ‘netzero’ climate plans, a convenient cloak for business-as-usual, and false solutions which involve a variety of risky technologies and deeply flawed schemes, from carbon markets, to carbon capture and storage (CCS), to hydrogen. At the heart of those pledges are projections to actually increase their production of gas. This smokescreen allows for continued emissions, and, deployed at scale, will have significant negative social and environmental impacts. It distracts from the rapid implementation of the urgently needed drop in fossil fuel consumption and replacement with real alternatives; yet the majority of political institutions embrace the false solutions engineered by the fossil fuel industry.
Revolving doors rules are inadequate and regulators ignore possible conflicts of interest whereby Big Energy benefits from the know-how and contact books of insiders. This is not a case of individual wrong-doing but a systemic problem across institutions. These revolving door cases demonstrate just how normalised the fossil fuel industry, it’s assumptions, power, and culture are.
The question of oil and gas companies’ influence in political life couldn’t be more significant. Whether they are opposing or delaying environmental action, pushing to defend dirty energy investments at the cost of human rights, securing diplomatic deals with third countries, fueling conflict, or playing powerful roles in economics and energy ministries, we need a functioning firewall between public officials and those companies most responsible for fueling and perpetuating climate change.
Read the full media brief here