MEDIA RELEASE: Civil society organisations demand fossil free politics

Hi everyone 😀

We had to keep this a secret until today but I'm delighted to announce that EPRi, along with our friends at Common Weal, are supporting the Fossil Free Politics campaign 😀

And on a quick personal note, it's great to be supporting Greenpeace and again, and making new friends at the Corporate Europe Observatory. Thanks to Myriam and Pascoe at CEO for helping us get involved, and to Lavinia and co at the Transnational Institute for providing a forum where those of us who bridge the research and activism divide can share information and ideas.

We've set up a dedicated page to keep you posted.



Civil society organisations demand fossil free politics

The Scottish civil society organisations Common Weal [1], the Energy Poverty Research initiative (EPRi) [2], Scottish Education and Action for Development (SEAD) [3], are just three of over 200 organisations who have signed up to demand that the fossil fuel industry is cut out of politics before it’s too late to avert catastrophic climate change [4].

The campaign, which is being led internationally by Friends of the Earth Europe, Corporate Europe Observatory, Food & Water Europe, and Greenpeace, has four key demands to political institutions:

1) Institute a firewall to end fossil fuel industry access to decision-making: no lobby meetings; no seats in expert and advisory bodies; no role in governmental research bodies.

2) Avoid conflict of interest of decision makers: no revolving door between public office and the fossil fuel industry; no industry side jobs or placements; no hiring of industry consultants. 

3) End preferential treatment of the fossil fuel industry: no involvement in climate negotiations; no place on government delegations to international negotiations or trade missions; no more subsidies or incentives for fossil fuel related activities.

4) Reject partnerships with the fossil fuel industry: no sponsorships or partnerships; no sharing platforms with industry representatives; no hosting or attending of industry events; no party or candidate donations.

The launch also marks the publication of new research by the four leading organisations which found that the world’s five big oil and gas majors and their lobbyists have spent at least 251 million euros lobbying the EU since 2010 [5]. Their investigations show that BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and Total – the world’s five biggest publicly-traded oil and gas companies – and their lobby associations, currently employ 200 lobbyists in Brussels. They have held 327 high level meetings with top European Commission officials since European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker took office in 2014. That is the equivalent of more than one meeting a week to influence EU climate and energy decision-making.

The data was obtained from companies’ own declarations in the EU’s lobby transparency register and European Commissioners’ published calendars of meetings [6].

As fossil fuel companies face increasing scrutiny [7], the groups call on the European Commission’s new President and Commissioners, MEPs, and governments to cut fossil fuel interests out of politics, with restrictions similar to those on tobacco industry lobbyists [8].

Fossil fuel industry lobbyists in Brussels and national capitals have, according to the groups, succeeded in delaying, weakening, and sabotaging EU action on the climate emergency – having watered down renewable energy, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas targets, while securing lucrative fossil fuel subsidies. This lobbying effort has helped contribute to the top five oil and gas companies’ US$82 billion in profits last year. Those same companies were responsible for 7.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions between 1988 and 2015.

Robin McAlpine, Director of Common Weal, said “According to Scotland's leading politicians, we're living in the age of the 'climate emergency'. It would be great if they started acting like it. If we're going to be serious about decarbonising our country before a rapidly looming deadline then we need to be sure that our politicians are acting in the interests of all of us, not just the small lobby of climate delayers who got us into this mess. Common Weal is about to publish a blueprint showing what Scotland needs to do to build a Green New Deal. I can say right now that it won't be done by allowing the fossil fuel industry to keep lobbying our elected officials to let them pump every last drop of oil and burn every last nugget of coal.

It’s time everyone got their head round the fact that if we’re burning carbon to heat, power and move us, we’re doing something wrong. No-one should underestimate the size and scale of the task, but no-one should underestimate the urgency. If we don’t get started seriously and quickly, we’ll fail. If we do, we’ll improve the lives of this generation and many to come.”

Dr Keith Baker, a Co-founder of EPRi, member of Common Weal, and co-author of a new book on managing the decline of the fossil fuel industry [9] said, “We should be in no doubt that tackling climate change means completely eliminating three major industries – coal, oil and gas – whose global gross domestic product easily runs into trillions of dollars, allowing them to exert huge political influence. This means that those industries, and the governments who permit them to operate, must limit the extraction of fossil fuels to, at most, two thirds of oil, half of gas, and under twenty percent of coal from currently available resources. This means a complete global ban on fracking and other forms of unconventional extraction. This means enabling the millions of people employed by those industries to transfer their knowledge and skills to developing and deploying non-fossil fuel technologies, creating millions more new jobs in renewable and low carbon energy industries, and training the workers we will need to fill them.”

Dr Daniel Winterstein from Scottish Education and Action for Ddevelopment (SEAD) said: “It is urgent we take action as a society on the climate emergency, and I welcome the speeches on this from Scotland’s politicians. But action will always be undermined if they take sponsorship and accept lobbying from industries. They wouldn’t accept money from a tobacco firm, yet they continue to take it from companies who threaten even more lives. If a politician cannot say no to coal/oil/gas money, and if they continue to meet with fossil fuel lobbyists - then their sincerity looks dubious. We need to stand up to the fossil fuel lobby to put an end to dirty energy – and the dirty politics around it.

All the information on the campaign and how you can get involved can be found at: 


[4] Fossil Free Politics campaign website: [live from 00.01 CET
Thursday 24 October, 2019]
[5] A briefing on the research, infographics, and civil society statement can be found here:
[6] Companies’ declarations of spending on lobbying in Brussels are voluntary and likely to underestimate real costs.
[7] BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, Total and other oil and gas companies are facing increasing scrutiny:
● On Wednesday 23 October, the US Congress holds a hearing ‘examining the oil industry’s efforts to suppress the truth about climate change’ -
● In the Philippines, the Commission on Human Rights is investigating 47 fossil fuel companies (including the five companies above) for human rights impacts resulting from climate change –  
● In the Netherlands, Shell faces a court case to compel the company to cease its destruction of the climate -
● In New York, the Supreme Court started a trial looking into claims that Exxon misled investors about climate change -
[8] The WHO’s framework convention on tobacco control includes measures to restrict tobacco industry lobbying -
[9] Wood, G., & Baker, K.J., (eds), 2019. The Palgrave Handbook of Managing Fossil Fuels and Energy Transitions. Palgrave Macmillan, Nov 2019 -