Why Copenhagen will be crawling with business lobbyists

Dan Box
Is a business presence at Copenhagen crucial or corrosive? Either way, in a few weeks Denmark is going to be up to its eyes in corporate lobbyists...

Booked your ticket to Copenhagen yet? Me neither. It's turning out to be more trouble than I hoped. All the hotels are booked. Lots of 'business types', the receptionists say.

Lots of business types indeed. Local press reports put the number of hotel reservations for the December climate summit at 100,000, spilling across Denmark and over the border into Sweden. All-in, up to 15,000 people are expected to take part. Many of that number will be corporates. Some of whom, with no apparent sense of irony, will arrive in private jets. Hotel switchboards, I am told, are going into overdrive with calls from secretaries across the world wanting to make sure their boss can get a Blackberry signal in the shower, and so on.

Some will criticise the companies for turning up. Accusations of 'greenwash', 'hijacking' and other choice words will be thrown. The reality is that they have been invited. In crude terms, Copenhagen will work like this: the protesters and politicians will say what they want. Business will be turned to to get things done.

But who will be there and what will they be doing?

Many of the biggest corporate dicks will be swung under the aegis of the International Chamber of Commerce, representing thousands of companies, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, with a more choice membership of around 200 big knobs. Many of the biggest names – Shell, Chevron, AREVA, General Motors, General Electric – appear on both membership lists.

Neither organisation is a stranger to climate change talks. Both know the game and this time, their playbook revolves around a joint Business Day hosted on December 12 at the Confederation of Danish Industry headquarters. Sponsors include the World LP Gas Association, the International Aluminium Institute and World Energy Council.

Another big player is the International Emissions Trading Association, whose members include many of the same list - Shell, Chevron, etc, etc – who stand to make profit or loss through the lucrative carbon trade. Again no stranger to this game, the IETA reportedly brought hundreds of lobbyists to the last two major climate summits at Bali and Poznan and has organised a whole suite of events for this one, almost all at the Crown Plaza Copenhagen Towers Hotel.

Some of you, when reading this, may believe business to be a necessary part of any solution found at the climate summit. Others may be already reaching for the box of rotten fruit and planning how best to storm a police line.

I just give you the information. Do with it what you will...

War, strife and petrol pumps

Today sees the release of the influential International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook 2009. Seriously, it's worth a look. Last year’s blockbuster included the news that the world would need the equivalent of 6 entire Saudi Arabias to start producing new oil by 2030 in order to meet ravenous demand and falling supply. That translates as more war, strife and price rises for basic food crops and at the petrol pump – some of which is going to hit home, whoever you are.

The report is now expected to do at least a partial reverse-ferret and claim that the global thirst for oil has been slaked. Demand is going down, other analysts claim, for good. If true, it's a big deal and possibly the best news in ages.

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