MEPs 'buckle under ExxonMobil pressure'

| 18th April 2019

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European Parliament upholds unrestricted access for ExxonMobil's six lobbyists - despite mounting pressure from civil society groups and politicians.

The European Parliament’s Quaestors, responsible for upholding the institution’s code of conduct, have failed to revoke ExxonMobil’s lobby badges. ExxonMobil and its lobby groups had upped their behind-the-scenes lobbying in the days and weeks before.

The Quaestor's decision upholds the continued unrestricted access to the EU institution for the corporation’s six lobbyists, even though it misled the public on the issue of climate change and refused to attend a corresponding public hearing last month.

This is despite multiple Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and political group and over 100 civil society organisations called for a withdrawal of access. 

Vested interests

Frida Kieninger, of Food & Water Europe and originator of the petition that led to the ExxonMobil climate change denial hearing, said: "MEPs missed a huge opportunity to show they are on the side of the people, not polluters.

"While the public is increasingly concerned about climate change and calls out the fossil fuel industry for blocking progress, our politicians don’t seem to agree.

"At the upcoming EU elections, voters will elect those who represent them, not politicians bowing to the interests of big oil, gas and coal companies.

“The European Union had the chance to show it was different from Trump’s America, but blew it. Rather than standing up to vested interests, it simply confirmed its place in the pocket of fossil fuel industry.”

Climate action 

Pascoe Sabido, Corporate Europe Observatory, said: “ExxonMobil and its lobby groups might be celebrating today’s decision, but not for long.

"Their scare tactics and blackmailing have kept the parliament open to their lobbyists only temporarily. The whole fossil fuels industry and its destructive political influence are under increasing scrutiny, as they try to strangle the much-needed green energy transition that is threatening their multi-billion euro profits.

"Big oil and gas corporations like ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Total are all equally guilty of lobbying against climate action, and must all be held to account.

"The millions of people regularly taking to the streets for climate action will also make their voices heard at the ballot boxes next month - especially first-time voters, who are not going to stand for fossil fuel-friendly candidates.”

Crucial precedent

Dr. Geoffrey Supran, Harvard University, expert witness called by the European Parliament to testify in the Exxon climate change denial hearing, said: “It’s disappointing to see one of climate politics’ rogue agents continue to have backdoor access to EU politicians.

"This sends an unfortunate legitimising signal to fossil fuel interests everywhere: You can misled the public and delay action for decades, you can refuse to stand accountable, and you will get away with it. At least for now.

“Nevertheless, these proceedings have yielded important outcomes. For one, MEPs are now formally on notice that they have a bad actor on climate change whispering in their ears.

"For another, the EU's hearing established crucial precedent. This was the first time, anywhere in the world, that lawmakers convened expressly to hear expert testimony about the history and consequences of climate change denial by the fossil fuel industry. As with the history of tobacco, this was just the first hearing - it won’t be the last.”

This Author

Marianne Brooker is content editor for The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Corporate Europe Observatory and Food & Water Europe. 

Right of Reply 

In response to an earlier article published on this topic, Richard Scrase, media adviser at ExxonMobil, said: "We ... believe that market-based systems that place a uniform, predictable cost on greenhouse gas emissions are more effective policy options than mandates or standards. Market-based policies more effectively drive consumer behaviour and technology innovation, while mandates and standards limit consumer choice and can perpetuate ineffective technologies."

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