As published on theguardian.com, Monday December 2, 2019.
Fossil fuel lobbyists are trying to water down planned EU rules to stop “investment greenwashing’ by setting science-based criteria for any investment which lays claim to being environmentally sustainable.
A report from lobbyist watchdog InfluenceMap has found that although some investors support the “green labelling” rules, 98% of Europe’s 50 largest investors are members of lobby groups trying to weaken the proposals.
The new “green taxonomy” law would enable the EU to set science-based criteria for what kind of investments can be marketed as “environmentally sustainable”.
The report found that lobbyists for the oil and gas sector including Eurogas, the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP), and FuelsEurope have pushed for weaker criteria which would classify gas projects as “green”.
Burning gas to generate electricity has roughly half the carbon intensity as burning coal, but still emits potent greenhouse gases which are proven to accelerate the climate crisis.
FuelsEurope has argued that “no threshold should be put on the amount of fossil fuels used” and IOGP has suggested to EU lawmakers that “any investments in gas related projects should be considered as sustainable”.
Ed Collins, the report’s lead author, said “Our research shows how vested interests have risked moving the critical EU taxonomy process away from being science-driven and focused on real-world impacts to one which supports narrow vested interests and the status quo in finance and sustainability.”
The findings from InfluenceMap follow a report commissioned by a coalition of green groups earlier this year which found that the five biggest oil and gas companies, and their industry groups, spent at least €251m (£217m) lobbying the European Union over climate policies since 2010.
The scale of the fossil fuel industry’s lobbying activities triggered calls from 200 organisations to demand a “firewall” around democratic politics to protect it from the influence of the fossil fuel industry.