Fossil fuel firms forcing countries to compensate them, Mary Robinson says

(The Guardian, 14 May 2024) Former Irish president and Ban Ki-moon say fossil lobbying is hampering climate progress.

Fossil fuel companies are forcing governments to compensate them for lost earnings in the transition to a low-carbon global economy, and destroying the world’s ability to counter their harmful activities, former top UN officials have warned.

Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland who was twice a UN climate envoy, said she was “outraged” by the activities of fossil fuel companies, including forcing governments into “investment treaties” that reward them with billions in compensation when countries reduce their reliance on oil, gas and coal.

“It is well worth looking at these investment treaties, there are lots of them – 2,000 of various sorts,” Robinson said. “[Under their terms], if countries do the right thing on climate, they have to compensate fossil fuel companies. And they compensate to the tune of $62bn (£49bn) over a five-year period. It’s another of these hidden subsidies. I was outraged.”

Several countries, including the UK, France, Germany and Spain, have objected to the energy charter treaty, under which the EU and other countries were supposed to cooperate on energy generation. But many other such treaties are still in force, according to the OECD.

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The Guardian, 14 May 2024: Fossil fuel firms forcing countries to compensate them, Mary Robinson says