Ban Fossil Fuel Industry in Climate Change Negotiations By:Azra Gul Mardan

The climate is changing globally and the frequencies of extreme events triggered by climate change are increasing as compared to the past. Climate change is already being experienced in various parts of the world and it’s quite sure that the effects are going to be amplified with the increasing emission of greenhouse gasses.

With increasing risk of climate change, the debate on minimizing many impacts attributed to climate change has been emerging day by day. Major scientists have now identified the increasing emission of greenhouse gasses to be a major cause for human-induced climate change. Furthermore, a major portion of these emissions is shared by fossil fuel companies.

A recent report published in the Guardian, suggests that the climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 major fossil fuel companies. Also, it has been reported that these companies have been funding the climate change denial campaigns and scientist to help influence the global negotiation.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) tries to preserve the health of our planet. According to the UN, climate change is already responsible for the death of 300.000 people per year. This is why the UNFCCC is continuously negotiating and setting rules and guidelines to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep temperature increase to safe limits. Besides this, these fossil fuel companies have been directly involving in the UNFCC climate change negotiation and funding the process and arrangements. One of the most scandalous examples was the COP 21 sponsorship in Paris, which included many fossil fuel industries.

Moreover, The Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015, resulted in 195 countries adopting the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal, generally called as the “Paris Agreement” opens the door to non-state actors, including explicitly to the private sector. Although the reason to open this door is to enhance climate action and engage all stakeholders in the policymaking process there is increasing possibility of rising conflicts of interest that could arise in order to safeguard its integrity.

As the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UNFCCC scheduled to take place from 7-18 November 2016 is approaching near, these companies will use their strategies to influence the process. We all have to stand to defend ourselves from this circle of big polluters. We should all be advocates for Climate Justice. The fossil fuel industries are actively lobbying climate action and standing in the way of progress. There is a saying: “When you’re trying to burn the table down, you don’t deserve a seat at it”. So this process needs to incorporate the voices of the people, not polluters”. For sure it is clear that if the fossil fuel industry continues to be part of climate talks, there will not be any significant change or progress in the outcomes of climate talks. So we must stop to make corporations set climate talks agenda and put profit-making interests above the world and nature.

This could be discussed in light with the tobacco industries, they were aware that it kills millions of people every year. On one hand, they were making a profit from selling their harmful products and on the other, they were trying to make their market stable with direct involvement in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) of the World Health Organization (WHO). But it doesn’t work long assuming the public concern Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) made sure that “the tobacco industry goes out of business”, as stated by Margaret Chan, its Director-General.

The organization has been fighting for many years to preserve public health and cut the consumption of tobacco worldwide, by implementing taxes or more strict policies. with massive support of different stakeholders and a group of people the World Health Organization (WHO) has successful in kicking the tobacco industry out of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) because they knew tobacco kills a million people yearly and the only way to make progress and preserve public health is by banning them.

To ensure the progress of global climate change negotiation in its right direction, the fossil fuel industry should be banned from climate change negotiations, just as it was done with the Tobacco industry in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to protect the earth from the damaging effects of climate change. Furthermore, the renewable energy should also be used along with non-renewable energy resources to save the resources for the future generation.

The banning of tobacco industries in negotiation could be considered as a remarkable achievement in the history of FCTC negotiation and this can be done in the case of fossil fuel industries in UNFCC. With reference to the example of tobacco convention, it is indeed possible to limit the inclusion of fossil fuel companies at climate negotiations.

Without undermining the need for involvement of diverse and all concerned stakeholders UNFCC will have to consider about these very logical and important questions which will shape the nature of future climate change negotiation.

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