After demanding that governments listen to the people and not the polluters at the entrance to Durban Protea Hotel, our Kumi and co-head of the Climate campaign, Tzeporah Berman entered the WBCSD conference to meet and greet with the barons of industry including the Dirty Dozen. Seated three rows back at the start of the conference they were welcomed by the CEO, who said it was nice to have them “inside participating rather than outside protesting” never one to miss a trick, Kumi flashed the audience a peace sign declaring “both are necessary” earning a smile and a thumbs up from Christina Figueres.
Tired of the co-opted politics of the first week of climate negotiations at COP 17, activists converged on the Global Business Day conference to name and shame The Dirty Dozen - a group of carbon intensive industries who are helping stifle progress on agreeing a global deal to combat climate change. Kumi was there to join the activists and bear witness to the backroom deals being made outside of the negotiations. Here is what he had to say:
“Meeting in the shadow of the vital UN talks these dirty dozen companies should be ashamed of their role in undermining global talks to tackle climate change, to save lives, economies and habitats. Putting short-term private profit before public protection is morally repugnant.Our political leaders need to close the door on dirty corporations who would celebrate failure in Durban, they must listen to the people and not the polluters. Our children and their children deserve nothing less.”
During the protest, climbers peacefully occupied the World Business Council on Sustainable Development conference to hang a banner demanding, “Listen to the people, not the polluters”. The 6 7 activists were arrested shortly after rappelling over the side of the building to display their message.
Life size puppets representing corporations, including Shell, Koch Industries and Eskom, which are pulling the strings of key world leaders, joined the protest. This bit of street theater highlights the links these corporations have to the US Congress, European Union President Barroso and Canadian Prime Minister Harper.
The peaceful protest follows the launch of our global report, ‘Who’s holding us back?’ which details how carbon intensive industry is preventing effective climate legislation. We’ve followed that report up with a list of the Dirty Dozen corporations that are here at the climate negotiations to make sure government negotiators are doing their bidding. With governments already covering these companies interests inside the COP, the Dirty Dozen found time to share tactics at their own meeting, called the World Business Council on Sustainable Development.
You might know ‘The Dirty Dozen’ as a classic war film, where a group of life-term prisoners, are given the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves by taking part in a covert mission during WWII. Make no mistake, this is no Hollywood movie. The protagonists don’t have the same celebrity name check as Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson. But there are some similarities with the movie. The heads of these polluting corporations share the same mission: to hold back political progress on the climate. And they are proving to be incredibly successful to date. There is a revolving door when it comes to influencing the political process, and it seems to spin only one way. Polluting corporations, such as Shell, Koch Industries and company not only have a majority stake on the boards of sustainable business forums, but priveleged access to occupy the agenda and decision making of our leaders.