Marrakech Climate Talks- Is It Conflict of Interest to Have Coal and Oil Industry Representatives at the Table

As the world gathers in Morocco for the historic first meeting under the Paris agreement – called “COP22” but now also “CMA1” – it does so with the unprecedented involvement of corporate interests who have fought climate action around the world, funded climate change denial and whose fundamental interest is in extracting and burning as much fossil fuel as possible.

Representatives of companies such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, Peabody, BP, Shell and RioTinto will have  access to most discussions in Marrakech, will be called upon for advice and will be walking the corridors and holding private discussions with countries that are trying to move the world to stop consuming the products those companies have based their businesses on.

The bodies through which those companies access the COP22 meetings have been detailed in a chart created by Corporate Accountability International. Groups such as the World Coal Association, the Business Council of Australia, Business Europe and Business Roundtable will represent the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies in the meetings through their “observer status”.

The role many fossil fuel companies play in policy debates as the world attempts to curb carbon emissions has been clear:

  • A series of ongoing revelationshave shown the fossil fuel industry was aware of climate change for decades but publicly denied its scientific basis.
  • Analyses of the limited amount of public information about the lobbying efforts of fossil fuel companies suggeststhat ExxonMobil, Shell and others spend millions of dollars to manipulate public discourse on climate change.
  • When Peabody went bankrupt this year a Guardian analysisof court documents revealed America’s biggest coalmining company was funding at least two dozen groups that cast doubt on human-made climate change and oppose environmental regulations. Peabody will be represented at the meeting by six bodies with observer status.

Just one week before countries descend on Marrakech for the negotiations of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a new infographic by Corporate Accountability International reveals the true extent of the fossil fuel industry’s access to, and influence over, the talks. The analysis exposes the financial and membership ties between some of the world’s largest fossil fuel corporations and accredited business groups and trade associations at the UNFCCC.

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Infographic by Corporate Accountability International:  How the fossil fuel industry influences the UNFCCC

 World Coal Association, an accredited observer to the UNFCCC, represents the interests of some of the world’s largest coal corporations like Peabody Energy, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. And, trade associations like the Business Council of Australia and BusinessEurope count as their members the likes of Exxon Mobil, BP, and Royal Dutch Shell—some of the world’s largest oil and gas corporations.

Many of these accredited observers have also  lobbied at the national and regional levels against environmental and renewable energy policies, further calling into question their role in the UNFCCC. BusinessEurope, for example, has consistently sought to undermine climate policy, including EU emissions trading schemes and renewables targets.

The Paris Agreement calls for a new and unprecedented level of private sector participation while providing no protections against corporations or trade groups that might seek to steer negotiations toward their (or their members’) commercial interests. At intersessional negotiations of the UNFCCC in May, Parties representing almost 70% of the world’s population called for the UNFCCC to study other international bodies’ policies in order to form its own policy to identify and address conflicts of interests that may arise between those interests and the environmental objectives of the Paris Agreement and the convention itself.

Further information and graphics

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/07/marrakech-climate-talks-giving-the-fossil-fuel-lobby-a-seat-at-the-table

https://www.stopcorporateabuse.org/blog/uncovered-fossil-fuel-industry-has-back-door-access-un-climate-talks

https://www.stopcorporateabuse.org/sites/default/files/resources/primerconflictofinterestunfccc_0.pdf

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June 27th, 2016 – State of Play on Organisation of 3rd Atlantic Stakeholder Platform Conference

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All roads lead to Dublin this fall!

The 3rd Atlantic Stakeholder Platform Conference taking place on the 27th September in Dublin, Ireland at the Croke Park centre, will focus on Priority 1 of the Atlantic Action Plan “Promote entrepreneurship and innovation” creating networking opportunities for stakeholders with an interest in developing projects in the Atlantic Area.

As we are heading towards September we would like to share with you the following practical information:

AGENDA

You can download the updated version of the Conference’s agenda here.

REGISTRATION

Do not forget to register for free and declare your participation in our Conference workshops.

CALL FOR STANDS

Stands are free of charge and the available 40 spaces will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Please read the guidelines and fill in the application.

INFO ABOUT HOTELS

You may find useful information about accommodation in Dublin here.

Register now to the Green Week conference in Brussels!

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The 2016 edition of Green Week, the biggest annual occasion to debate and discuss European environment policy, will take place from Monday, 30 May to Friday, 3 June. It will focus on the theme “Investing for a greener future”.
Investing is about more than money. It’s about creating jobs and taking people out of unemployment. It’s about ensuring our children breathe cleaner air on their way to school, it’s about using raw materials and resources more efficiently, it’s about preventing waste, and much more besides.

The many facets of green investment will feature throughout the week. Events and activities will take place across Europe, centred round a high-level conference in Brussels on Wednesday 1 June, with a wide variety of organisations and partners taking part.
To show how the investments of today can help a “greener future” become a reality, each day of the week will focus on different aspects of the theme.

On Monday we look at how investing for greener cities can improve the quality of urban life. On Tuesday we explore ways of securing our future through investments in the countryside, which provides so many of the resources that our society needs. Wednesday focuses on finding the financing for our needs, and Thursday then looks at investing in our oceans. Friday widens the scope to a more global outlook, namely investing in sustainable development for future generations. Partner Events take place throughout May and June (see Partners Section for more details).

The registration system is now open for events at The Egg in Brussels. Click here to create an account or to login. Register via the link for each session on the programme of the day.

Decommissioning oil and gas platforms and infrastructure in the North Sea

By Magdalena A K Muir, Advisory Board Member, Climate and Global Change

The oil price collapse has been bad news for nearly every company involved in the offshore hydrocarbon  industry, but one group that could actually benefit from it are specialist decommissioning companies. For these companies there is an opportunity to be part of removing the huge tonnage of hydrocarbon infrastructure that exists in the North Sea. With oil prices forecast to remain low, life extension work that has kept many North Sea platforms producing long past their design life no longer makes commercial sense.  As decommissioning occurs, the costs, innovation, suitable approaches and environmental implications also need to be considered. 

The offshore decommissioning process within the area around the UK, better known as the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS), and the other parts of the North Sea that belong to Norway, Ireland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Sweden are governed by the Oslo Paris Convention, also called “OSPAR”. Each of these countries has its own internal legislation regarding the decommissioning process and the taxation applied to it.
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The picture below from the Decom website shows the different decommissioning options currently used to decommission an offshore platform. With regards to the North Sea sector, according the current OSPAR 98/3 regulation the only possible option regarding the substructure is the total removal.
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Per the Decom, the rig to reef program is considered to be more economic and environmental friendly. Under this approach, the structure is not removed entirely from the sea, with four main techniques:
a)Leaving the structure in situ
b)Sinking the structure
c)Cutting the upper part of the structure at 85 feet below the sea level and placing the remaining part on the sea bed
d)Towing the entire structure to another site and sinking it
Rigs-To-Reefs
Per Scottish Enterprise’s Decommissioning in the North Sea: Review of Decommissioning Capacity report, projected North Sea decommissioning activity estimates vary, with the most conservative estimates predicting the market will require over £30bn of expenditure before 2040 in the UK Continental Shelf alone. As ageing assets reach the end of their economically useful life it is expected that the next 5 to 10 years will see a significant increase in activity, increasing up to an estimated annual spend in excess of £2.5bn per annum.
Unlike the other countries in the report, the UK will see reasonably high levels of activity throughout the forecast period. Costs could exceed $50 billion (bn) using current removal methods, or $43bn if alternative approaches are utilised. This $7bn saving is due to the number of extra-large platforms that will require removal, which would lead to high costs using current techniques. The most common decommissioning method is reverse installation and while this is well established and safe, it is time consuming, resulting in high costs. Lifts could be much quicker, lowering offshore costs substantially. 146 platforms could  be removed from the UK during 2019-2026 – 51% of all UK platform removals over the forecast. This is due to the high number of ageing platforms in the UK, which have an average age of over 20 years and are uneconomic at current commodity prices, as a result of high maintenance costs and the expensive production techniques required for mature fields. However, many of the largest platforms will remain in place until the 2030s, mainly due to tiebacks that have increased production life.

An practical example of the scope and nature of  these offshore activities is the BP Decommissioning Programme, which has  been approved by the UK government in 2013. The Miller field ceased production in 2007 and BP has already completed the first phase of decommissioning, involving well abandonment and topsides clean up. The pipelines which were used to export oil and gas from the Miller installation have been flushed clear of hydrocarbons and are being left in place for potential future use. The detailed decommissioning programme contains proposals for dealing with the topsides, jacket, and drill cuttings pile. he UK Government approved the decommissioning programme in December 2013.The Miller field is situated 270km NE of Aberdeen, in Blocks 16/7b and 16/8b, in the Central North Sea. BP is the field operator and partners are ConocoPhillips and Shell.

Decom Offshore 2016 Conference, May 25, 2016

SE4All High-Level Event, on 27 September 2015 – Implementing Sustainable Development Goal 7: The Role of partnerships in ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all

By Magdalena A K Muir, Advisory Board Member, Climate

Please find attached the followup report and weblinks and videos for the recent meeting on partnerships for sustainable energy, which was held in conjunction with the recent UN Summit. EUCC was a registered participant in this event. 

EUCC has been historically engaged in sustainable energy issues in coast and marine areas with  Europe, UN, SE4ALL and regionally for the North and Mediterranean Seas. See the EUCC webpage for more information: http://www.eucc.net/en/climate_change/index.htm
Please find a webcast of the full event here
and here
Photos and a summary of the event can be found at 
News and other relevant materials, including film clips used during the event, can be found on www.se4all.org.

What should countries do with thousands of offshore oil and gas drilling rigs built during a boom in the 1980s that will soon reach retirement age and require decommissioning?

Source: The New York Times

Among the ideas being considered: sinking, removing or repurposing them in a variety of ways including offshore super-max prisons, scuba hotels, marine science schools, fish farm hubs, wind, solar or tidal power stations.

The Seaventures Dive Rig is a hotel and scuba school on a converted oil rig in the western Pacific near Borneo. Credit Adam Dean for The New York Times

ON A PLATFORM IN THE CELEBES SEA — IN the next several years, thousands of offshore oil and gas drilling rigs, many of them built during a global construction boom in the 1970s and ’80s, will reach retirement age and require decommissioning. Countries will have to decide whether to sink, remove or repurpose them.

While few proposals have been put in practice, there is no shortage of ideas for alternative uses of the platforms: supermax prisons, private homes, scuba schools, fish farms, windmill stations.

Unlike earlier generations of offshore rigs, which tended to be fewer, smaller and closer to shore, the ones being retired now are bigger, more numerous and spread much more broadly across the globe. Most of these retirement-ready platforms are too old for heavy industrial use, like drilling, but not necessarily old enough to demand full removal.

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