How America plotted to stop Kyoto deal

A A A

A detailed and disturbing strategy document has revealed an extraordinary American plan to destroy Europe's support for the Kyoto treaty on climate change.

The ambitious, behind-the-scenes plan was passed to The Independent this week, just as 189 countries are painfully trying to agree the second stage of Kyoto at the UN climate conference in Montreal. It was pitched to companies such as Ford Europe, Lufthansa and the German utility giant RWE.

Put together by a lobbyist who is a senior official at a group partly funded by ExxonMobil, the world's biggest oil company and a fierce opponent of anti-global warming measures, the plan seeks to draw together major international companies, academics, think-tanks, commentators, journalists and lobbyists from across Europe into a powerful grouping to destroy further EU support for the treaty.

It details just how the so-called "European Sound Climate Policy Coalition" would work. Based in Brussels, the plan would have anti-Kyoto position papers, expert spokesmen, detailed advice and networking instantly available to any politician or company who wanted to question the wisdom of proceeding with Kyoto and its demanding cuts in carbon dioxide emissions.

It has been drawn up by Chris Horner, a senior official with the Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute and a veteran campaigner against Kyoto and against the evidence of climate change. One of his colleagues ­ who describes himself as an adviser to President George Bush ­ was the subject of a censure motion by the Commons last year after he attacked the Government's chief scientist.

Mr Horner, whose CEI group has received almost $1.5m (£865,000) from ExxonMobil, is convinced that Europe could be successfully influenced by such a policy coalition just as the US government has been.

He thinks Europe's weakening economies are likely to be increasingly ill at ease with the costs of meeting Kyoto. And in particular, he has spotted something he thinks most of Europe has not yet woken up to. Most of the original 15 EU Kyoto signatories ­ Britain is an exception ­ are on course to miss their 2010 CO2 reduction targets. But under the terms of the treaty, they will face large fines for doing so, in terms of much bigger reduction targets in any second phase.

These will prove unacceptably costly to their economies, Mr Horner believes, even if they try to buy their way out by buying up "spare" emissions for cash from countries such as Russia. Mr Horner believes the moment for his coalition is at hand and has been seeking support for it from multinational companies. In his pitch to one major company, he wrote: " In the US an informal coalition has helped successfully to avert adoption of a Kyoto-style programme by maintaining a rational voice for civil society and ensuring a legitimate debate over climate economics, science and politics. This model should be emulated... to guide similar efforts in Europe."

Elsewhere he claimed: "A coalition addressing the economic and social impacts of the EU climate agenda must be broad-based (cross industry) and rooted in the member states. Other companies (including Lufthansa, Exxon, Ford) have already indicated their interest!"

Last night green groups hit out. Kert Davies, Greenpeace's climate campaign co-ordinator, which initially obtained the documents, said: "These are the hitmen for the Bush administration and the likes of Exxon. They are behind the scenes doing the dirty work. They are extending efforts to Europe where they are trying to undermine the momentum to solve global warming."

While there is nothing illegal about the lobbying, the documents reveal a rare insight into the well-funded efforts within the US to influence opinion at senior levels of European corporations. Campaigners say the campaign is similar to a notorious lobbying effort carried out during the 1990s to undermine support for Kyoto within the US.

The revelation comes as international negotiators in Montreal are discussing the next step within Kyoto and the possibility of introducing new emissions targets. The Bush administration ­ which has rejected the treaty ­ has insisted it will not agree to any measures that legally bind it to reduce emissions. Mr Horner has been present this week in Montreal.

When contacted by The Independent, Mr Horner confirmed the strategy document was the draft of a presentation he sent to RWE. He defended his lobbying effort saying "that is what I do". He said he simply promoted a point of view, as did Greenpeace. "I don't begrudge them what they do [but] they begrudge me what I do," he said.

Asked if he thought it was appropriate for a major American oil company to be funding a lobbyist targeting European companies, he replied: " Everybody else does." But Mr Horner, who is also a senior figure within the Cool Heads Coalition, a group that questions the evidence of global warming and opposes any policies to "ration" energy, claimed his efforts to influence opinion in Europe had been unsuccessful. He said RWE had not taken up the suggestions contained within his presentation, and that other companies had also rejected his ideas.

"I don't know why it's surprising [I have lobbied European companies]," he said. "What is surprising to me is why it's not working." Ford and RWE confirmed that they and other companies had met Mr Horner and other advocates in Brussels last February. He had not been paid any fee nor had they contributed to his expenses. Mr Horner apparently travelled to Europe at the request of the European Enterprise Industry, a fledgling group hoping to emulate the CEI.

Bill McAndrews, a spokesman for RWE, said: "He met with [us and] other German companies in Brussels. Brussels is the EU capital, there are a lot of people who come to meet. We have not approached him since then." He added: "RWE talks to all sorts of people. We talk with Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund. We discuss matters with all opinions. It's important to hear everybody's side on such a global issue. It does not mean that RWE shares that opinion."

In a statement, ExxonMobil, said: "The notion adopted by some groups ... that only their views and only their funding and lobbying are acceptable is, in our opinion, not helpful to the debates vital to developing good public policy."

Adrian Schmitt, a spokesman for Ford Europe, said Mr Horner had met with company representatives on one occasion "at a Brussels level". He insisted that Ford had not supported Mr Horner's opinions. "Exactly the opposite. Our position is that climate change is a serious issue and appropriate steps need to be taken now."

He said that the company had been one of the first companies to withdraw its support for the Global Climate Coalition ­ a now-defunct lobbying effort that worked to oppose US reductions in greenhouse gas emissions during the late Nineties.

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?