(31 October 2023) The Fossil Free Politics coalition launched its People over Polluters declaration at a rally in Brussels in front of the European Commission. Speaking at the rally, EPSU General Secretary, Jan Willem Goudriaan highlighted the need to reform the broken energy system, hold corporations accountable and recognise that workers are at the heart of the just transition.
The rally followed a bus tour around some of Europe’s biggest oil and gas company headquarters.
Coalition members from different countries spoke critically about the growing role companies such as Total, Eni, Iberdrola, EPH, Offshore Energy UK enjoy in the EU Policy arena, that all while reducing their climate commitments. Examples of companies from Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, UK and EU were given to describe the effects that an unfair politics has had in the last one and half year within the EU.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the fossil fuel industry has acquired unprecedented access to decision makers in the European Commission: to face the energy crisis, the Commission created the EU Energy Platform Industry Advisor Group, a body at the behest of energy giant CEO’s that advise the Commission on alternative sources of non-Russian gas and oil infrastructure, which now could become permanent.
But what is even more shocking is the frequency of meetings that these companies enjoy, with more than 200 meetings the year after the invasion. Industry lobbyists are also able to access the European Parliament whenever they want, with badges that grant them access to Parliament buildings, meaning they can consult informally with MEPs.
The People Over Polluters Declaration asks for fossil free politics, in which the institutions give a more central role to groups representing the public interest, such as trade unions, NGOs and energy poverty groups.
Energy is a right and people should not be left to pay the price of a transition in which oil and gas giants scale back on their climate commitments and avoid windfalls taxation.
The Declaration fights against austerity and considers it fundamental to overhaul the system and hold fossil fuel companies responsible for the unequal burden of pollution, as well as for land grabbing and displacement of indigenous nations.
The transition will not play in favour of the public interest if institutions facilitate and financially support these companies instead of taking care of people, creating new green jobs, guaranteeing good working conditions and rejecting austerity.
The rally took place 25 October 2023, Brussels.