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ExxonMobil Lobbyist Tried to Water Down European Green Deal

Politics
Motorway A8 with a wind farm in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany. The European commission's effort to transition from a high-carbon to a low-carbon emitter received input from ExxonMobil. imageBROKER / Lilly / Getty Images

The European commission's effort to transition the 27-country economic bloc from a high-carbon to a low-carbon emitter in a few decades received input from the fossil fuel giant ExxonMobil in the weeks prior to its passage, according to a watchdog that monitors lobbying activity, as The Guardian reported.


As Common Dreams reported, a report released last week by InfluenceMap revealed that Exxon lobbyists met with commission officials in November to request an extension of the Green Deal's carbon pricing policy, known as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), to tailpipe emissions.

The report revealed that just ahead of the December announcement of the Green Deal, Exxon lobbyists met with Frans Timmermans, a member of the commission's cabinet, after the company avoided penalties for failing to attend a hearing on climate denial, as the EU Observer reported.

As InfluenceMap wrote in its report:

"In the meeting, the lobbyist for ExxonMobil tried to stall an overhaul of the transportation sector. ExxonMobil representatives pushed for the EU Commission to change its approach to climate regulation in the transport sector, including removing the EU's strict CO2 vehicle tailpipe standards, in what appears to have been an effort to stall a push towards electric vehicles. A direct extract from the meeting notes indicate the un-named ExxonMobil officials argued that the EU should: 'Give serious consideration to extending ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme) beyond stationary sources. Tail pipe emission legislation should be substituted with power plant to wheel emission regulation.'"

According to The Guardian, the maneuver aimed to tamp down knowledge about the carbon footprint of driving a combustion engine running on fossil fuels. And the lobbying effort seems to have worked, since the European Commission did not include plans to phase out combustion engines. It also did not include cars running on fossil fuels in its carbon-pricing plan.

Furthermore, the move aims to create unrest that would be politically unfeasible. The only way for a carbon-pricing plan for tailpipe emissions to be influential is for it to make greenhouse gas emissions very expensive. Yet, that type of action that transfers costs to consumers has been the bedrock of protests like the Yellow Vests protests in France, which stemmed from a proposed tax on diesel and gasoline, as the EU Observer reported.

Edward Collins, a director at InfluenceMap, said the document "represents yet another evidence piece" of ExxonMobil's efforts to protect its profits by thwarting meaningful regulatory action and shifting the focus to long-term technical solutions, as The Guardian reported.

The lack of decisive and meaningful regulatory actions that would change the transportation sector and the energy infrastructure of Europe in the immediate future drew the ire of climate activists, as EcoWatch reported. The Green Deal requires that European countries reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which many scientists say is too late to stop the climate crisis.

"Net zero emissions by 2050' for the EU equals surrender. It means giving up," Greta Thunberg and 33 other youth climate activists wrote in an open letter published Tuesday and reported by Reuters. "We don't just need goals for just 2030 or 2050. We, above all, need them for 2020 and every following month and year to come."

As Common Dreams pointed out:

"Exxon's attempt to further weaken the European Green Deal represents 'a shift from the propagation of climate science denial towards a range of more subtle tactics and narratives to distract policymakers and the public away from an urgent and robust policy intervention on climate on the scale recommended by the IPCC's 2018 special report on 1.5 [degrees Celsius] warming,' said InfluenceMap."

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