Challenging Private Corporations at the COP


Victor Wallis (

Privately owned corporations play a conspicuous role at global climate conferences. Although I have not studied this topic in detail, I think it’s important to call it to the attention of the environmental movement as one that should be emphasized in the context of any discussion about demands to be made in relation to November’s meeting in Glasgow.

I will limit myself here to mentioning a few sources and considerations, in the hope that many of us may find the topic worth pursuing.

A key point to note is that the business organizations that focus on these conferences all do so under the guise of accepting the need for limiting the rise in global average temperature.

A major example is the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) (, which describes itself as “a CEO-led consortium that aims to accelerate the industry response to climate change” and whose“member companies explicitly support the Paris Agreement and its goals.” On the OGCI’s activities in 2019, see its annual report ( and also the report by the Guardian on its activities (

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) takes up the work of such organizations, which thereby have a defining role in establishing the agreed upon priorities. See the UNFCCC’s news release from Madrid 2019. (

Corporate leadership in this domain goes back to 1992, with the formation of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) ( I find it significant that the founder of this organization, Stefan Schmidheney, was later sentenced to prison by an Italian court “for being responsible for the death of over 2000 people due to one of his companies producing asbestos”  (

Reading the statements put out by such organizations on their public sites, I am struck by their vagueness. I offer as an example the WBCSD’s statement on water: “We envision a world in which business adds value through water. To achieve this, business must accelerate actions on water, thriving as they adapt and evolve, managing water-related risks and seizing water-related business opportunities. This will drive positive social and environmental change at the base, where business collaborates with multiple stakeholders committed to pursuing a common agenda.” ( This strikes me as an abstruse way to claim that the privatization of water resources somehow benefits the communities from which those resources are taken.

On the basis of an investigation that goes beyond these brief notes, and in collaboration with organizations like Corporate Accountability International (, I think we might help raise general public awareness of the degree to which the COPs have served as platforms for corporate greenwashing and have regularly blocked organizations representing the majority of humanity from having a voice. Perhaps this could lead to specific demands for establishing the agenda of the Glasgow COP.







DisclaimerOpinions expressed in articles are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of other members of the Global Ecosocialist Network

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