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To the Carbon Club: itís time to move aside

By Steve Campbell - posted Tuesday, 4 December 2007

This is a note to the executives and lobbyists of some of the most powerful corporations on the planet - the coal, oil and gas sector, the energy utilities and the aluminium and automotive industries:

You have already done your worst. The evidence reveals two decades of vandalism that you’ve committed on international climate negotiations. It’s time for you to stand aside.

The global dominoes of greenhouse-induced damage are starting to fall. The Arctic ice is melting, the oceans are becoming acidified and species loss is accelerating. In Australia we are in the grip of an unprecedented drought and the Great Barrier Reef is under threat.


Last month, the world top climate scientists, the Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that the state of the planet is dire. If we don’t act with great decisiveness, the affects of climate change could be devastating for our planet.

The international community has been attempting to deal with the problem since the 1980s, but you have managed to sabotage their efforts at every turn, financing think tanks and propagating the myth that “the science is still out”.

Your influence in Australia has been particularly insidious. Think of the masterfully named “Low Emissions Technology Advisory Group” of Carbon Club CEOs and the anti-climate action think tanks you finance - the Centre for Independent Studies*, The Lavoisier Group and the Institute of Public Affairs. [*Editor’s note: on investigation of a complaint from the CIS they cannot be described as “anti-climate action” and in fact recently published a paper supporting a carbon tax.]

Our outgoing Prime Minister, John Howard a climate denier until late 2006, was still trotting out your sound bites up until the last days of the election campaign. To make the key decisions needed for Australia to contribute to the climate solution, our new government will need to be free of your influence. With the highest per capita emissions in the world, and having wasted so many years through inaction, Australia is an enormous climate embarrassment on the international stage.

Your sabotaging influence at every climate change talk since they began is notorious. Your lobbyists and PR professionals have stymied, obfuscated, stalled and bullied your way through thousands of hours of meetings meant for negotiating.

In 1992, your lobbying was rewarded at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, when George Bush Senior came out with his infamous comment that “the American lifestyle is not negotiable”. Similarly, in 1997, while representing your interests, the Global Climate Coalition managed to seriously weaken and almost derail the Kyoto negotiations. Now a new round of global negotiations has begun in Bali, setting the agenda for the next phase of Kyoto, and we want you to stay home.


All the world’s governments have, at least for a time, bought your disinformaton and spin. While most have woken up to climate change now, many still hang on to the belief they can address the issue while still protecting your economic interests. But this is not so. The only way to reduce emissions by the amount required to avoid dangerous climate change climate change is to make the switch from coal to renewables and energy efficiency.

Your shareholders have children and grandchildren who need a viable planet to live on. The comfort of the money you make for them will not protect their descendants from a bereft world. So you will have to change and the global environment will have to take precedence over your business interests and thirst for profit.

It’s time for you to let our political leaders, scientists and policy makers find the best fixes they can without your interference. It’s time for you to stand aside, and let the people who can actually do something, fix the problem.

You may argue your economic interests are as important as anyone else’s agenda. But this excuse can no longer be sustained.

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About the Author

Steve Campbell is the Head of Campaigns for Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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