Today is day three of the UN Climate Conference. Yesterday I acknowledged the desperation expressed by the Philippine negotiator when he referred to the global inaction on climate change solutions as “madness”. Today’s ECO includes information about the large role being played there by the fossil fuel industries helping to pay the cost of hosting the meeting. This could be described as another type of madness given that the goals of the conference are to reduce carbon emissions over time, something the fossil fuel industry fights tooth and nail.
As we all know, these industries have a great deal of money that they place in advertising and other media outlets to influence, some say manage, public perspective about fossil fuels. It is also broadly acknowledged that they have significant, some say disproportionate, access to, and influence with, political decision-makers. Neither of these observations is particularly shocking or illegal and both have probably been going since the advent of these industries. But, the combination of influencing public perception and policy decisions is a major barrier to climate action progress at the UN conference, with the US Congress, and in state governments throughout the Rocky Mountain region.
So how do public interest and environmental groups deal with such a barrier. One of the first steps is to acknowledge that the industries are not going away no matter how many pipelines we protest or how much we complain about disproportionate influence. Nor should they go away given how much our economy depends on them.
But, these industries can be moved through public policy into being much better corporate neighbors that are committed our environmental and economic sustainability. This takes strong leadership within governments to stand up to the “take no prisoner” strategies used by some in the industry, strong leadership within the industry to change substantially their way of doing business , strong leadership in environmental community to help negotiate meaningful solutions with governments and industry while accepting that energy use by people has its impacts and as long as we use energy we will have to very carefully manage those impacts. That is the big picture goal of the UN conference and treaty and WRA’s goals with the work we do in the West.
Today’s ECO Newsletter:
READ MORE: Gary’s previous post on the UN Climate Conference
- November 12th: Madness and the UN Climate Conference