Opinion: Can fossil fuel companies be banned from global climate negotiations?

by Chinma George

‘For the love of money is the root of all evil. Money answereth all things’. These are two quotes from the Bible (1st Timothy 6v10, Ecclesiastics 10 v 19) that not only reflect human behaviour but also constitute a major element of businesses worldwide. Money! Can we curb our love for money and profit in order to save our planet and climate? From past decades and centuries, it’s been established that profit and business as usual are the main drivers of climate change, especially from sectors of the economy that brought about industrialization. Fossil fuel companies, which comprise of oil, gas and coal, are the industries that emit the highest concentration of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. China and the United States are currently the largest emitters.

Unfortunately, these big fossil fuel companies are refusing to acknowledge that their activities are part of the major causes of global warming, dating back to as far back as 1940s. They have also refused to adhere to research they did on how to curb their emissions, but would rather invest in spreading the wrong information. These are some of the strategies of the fossil fuel companies, used to deceive the world on the impact of their activities on the environment. Such big conglomerates and multinationals have totally destroyed and polluted the land and seas in some developing countries. Furthermore, their activities of burning of fossil fuels constitutes to anthropogenic greenhouse gases, which is the major cause of climate change.

The adverse effects of climate change are already being felt in Africa. For example, ‘Lake Chad has shrunk from a total area about 25,000 km2 in 1963 to less than 3,501km2’ (Scientific American, 2001). This is known to be as a result of climate change, this shrinking is reducing sources of livelihoods bringing about terrorism and conflicts such as Boko Haram. This is also giving rise to climate change migration of people in the bordering countries of Niger, Nigeria and Chad.

Other negative effects of global warming include increased droughts, desertification, poverty, hunger and water stress in developing countries.

Companies which are known to be causing this climate change, keeping in main focus their ‘thirst for power and material prosperity’ according to the Pope, have engaged fossil fuel lobbyists to penetrate the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change decisions. In order for the Conference of Parties to be focused and effective, governments should be encouraged to sponsor these negotiations at the exclusion of these companies.

The last Conference of Parties in Paris was sponsored by a number of fossil fuel companies such as Engie and EDF. There is no way they did not bring their economic gains to water down the decisions. Consequently, it is arguable that the result would have been much better without them. There is general agreement that more sanctions, laws, treaties and restrictions should be put on these big polluters to deter them from continuing to pollute and encourage them to remedial proposals.

A cue can be taken from the Tobacco industry, where the World Health Organization’s, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FTCT) has been fighting for public health of the masses. The framework convention on tobacco control has been able to include in Article 5.3 a set of guidelines to help governments protect policy-making from tobacco industry interference at the national level. Recognizing this, it is indeed possible to limit the inclusion of fossil fuel companies at crucial negotiations where measures are taken to limit the emission of greenhouse gases.


Source: UNEP; This collection of Maps has been sourced from a series of satellite images provided by NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Chinma George is a climate finance consultant @Chimz_green


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