Climate Talks: Brexit Is Likely To Make The Fight Against Lobbying That Much Harder

This week, governments are gathering in Bonn, Germany, for the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. COP 23, for short. High on the agenda is how to put the Paris Agreement into action. Agreed at COP21, the accord aims to avoid the worst of the climate crisis by keeping limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and well below 2 degrees. One of the biggest challenges to getting nations to agree to a real, just, and effective implementation plan is overcoming the pervasive and powerful influence of lobbyists. Let's be clear: lobbying isn't all bad. It was only last month that I met the wonderful and truly inspiring Guardians of the Forest, the indigenous peoples taking their fight to protect their lands and their forests across the world. I met them in Brussels where they were lobbying for support from MEPs, which I was more than happy to give. Lobbying can encompass causes that are entirely in line with the fight against climate change. Delighted to stand with the inspiring fighting to protect their - and the world's - forests! ?✊? — Keith Taylor MEP (@GreenKeithMEP) Lobbying efforts don't have to involve a shady web of vested interests and don't have to be embarked upon purely in the pursuit of protecting the profits of multinational corporations and a tiny wealthy elite. But when it comes to the world of environmental, public health and climate policymaking, more often than not, it does. The situation is such that the latest report from Corporate Accountability, only reveals what Greens close to climate negotiations at the local, national and international level have warned about for decades: corporations with vested interests opposed to urgent climate action have far too much sway over policymaking in this area. The European Union and the member states which make up its number, in particular, are being influenced by big polluters to such an extent that the implementation of the Paris Agreement is under threat. The report finds lobbyists have infiltrated the highest levels of climate talks to push for false solutions to the climate crisis and battle against the urgent action and tougher regulations needed - to protect the profit margins of their big polluter paymasters. The European Union is marked out as "perhaps worse" than even America, which has now withdrawn from the accord altogether, for "undermining climate policy" because of the pernicious influence of lobbyists. It's something Greens have been fighting against for decades. It's why I was delighted last month to see MEPs coming together to support a Green resolution to keep vested interests out of future climate negotiations. The European Parliament has made its position is clear: we won't stand for dirty energy lobbyists and climate deniers subverting the critical fight against climate change. It was disappointing then that the European Council failed to follow our lead - but not surprising. The body is made up of the leaders of the same EU nations that are aiding and abetting corporate lobbying in their own countries. If leaders, like Theresa May, won't confront the dirty lobbyists at home, they're not likely to use their influence in the Council to kick them out of global climate negotiations. It's this fact, among many others, that makes Brexit so concerning. Not only are so many of the Ministers and MPs pushing for an extreme Brexit so inexorably linked to a shady web of dirty lobbyists and climate denialists they have explicitly stated their desire to see leaving the EU as an opportunity to strip away what few safeguards we do have. Britain outside the EU will be governed unchecked by a hard-right, heavily fossil fuel-invested Conservative Party in hock to out and out climate denialists in Northern Ireland. From fast-tracking fracking to aviation expansion, the corporate influence on the Government's climate-destructive policymaking is already clear. Greens will continue fighting tooth and nail to increase transparency and stop polluting industries having so much influence over our Government. But there is little hope Brexit will make this fight easier - and a very real probability it will become that much harder.