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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you looking to take your ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Exciting career prospect for ...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Media Sales - OTE up to £30,000

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Developer

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique & exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935