Dear European Parliament President, Mr. Antonio Tajani,
cc. Klaus Welle, European Parliament Secretary General,
We are writing to you as members of the Greens/EFA Group to express our deep concern over the access of ExxonMobil lobbyists to the European Parliament, in light of their funding and promotion of climate change denial and their refusal to participate in the joint PETI-ENVI committee hearing on Climate Change Denial which took place today.
According to Rule 116a(3) of the Rules of Procedure, lobbyists shall have their access badges denied where they have “refused, without offering a sufficient justification, to comply with a formal summons to attend a hearing or committee meeting or to cooperate with a committee of inquiry”.
Today’s hearing has been organised by the ENVI and PETI committees in response to a petition by Food and Water Europe and 732 citizens, but ExxonMobil have declined to participate. ExxonMobil has failed to provide a sufficient justification for their lack of participation, simply referring to an ongoing court case in the USA and stating that “public commentary, such as would be solicited at the hearing, could prejudice those pending proceedings”.
These arguments are unconvincing because Exxon has already made public comment on this case on their own website, as can be seen here: https://corporate.exxonmobil.com/energy-and-environment/environmental-protection/climate-change/understanding-the-exxonknew-controversy#whatIsExxonKnew.
In addition, in the refusal letter itself (sent only the day before the hearing), ExxonMobil takes aim at one of the key speakers who did comply with the European Parliament’s summons to the hearing; and proceeds to make a series of arguments against their academic findings. In their letter, ExxonMobil attempts to deny charges of climate denialism whilst continuing to discredit the work of independent scientists giving testimony at the hearing. And yet, they have failed to actually send a representative before the ENVI and PETI committees to defend their position in public.
Furthermore, the ongoing court cases in the USA (the first of which commenced already in 2015), have not prevented ExxonMobil from participating in events in the European Parliament, for example on the 7th December (see here and here), or from sponsoring the EU energy summit which happened on the 5th March.
In fact, since the 2015, when the case in the USA first started, ExxonMobil has spent at least 11.5 million euros in lobbying the EU institutions, according to their own EU Transparency Register declarations.
ExxonMobil currently has 6 lobby badges and at least the equivalent of 5.2 full time members of staff working on lobbying the EU institutions, according to their entry in the EU Transparency Register for the year 2018. It is doubtful that all their accredited representatives would be so closely involved in the ongoing court case that they would not be able to participate in today’s hearing. In fact, a total of 220 lobbyists linked to Exxon (for example through trade associations or via hired consultancies) have direct access to EU Parliament through lobby badges.
There is evidence to show that ExxonMobil is still funding organisations which deny the existence of climate change, but also focusses on fighting real solutions like renewable energy and engages in watering down climate targets. ExxonMobil is therefore clearly still engaging in lobbying activities, as defined in the EU Transparency Register, despite the ongoing court case. In their letter, they even make clear that they plan to have bilateral meetings with certain MEPs, whilst refusing to appear before the PETI and ENVI committees.
Citizens turn to the European Parliament because they believe in representative democracy and they expect us to exercise our rights – and duties – regarding Parliamentary oversight. We must use our powers to ensure accountability of all relevant actors and to defend the public interest by removing the lobby badges of those who fail to respect the Parliament’s oversight responsibilities by refusing to comply with a formal summons to a hearing.
We therefore call on you trigger Rule 116a(3) with immediate effect, until Exxon agree to appear before the European Parliament in a public forum.
We hope that you will respond swiftly to this request, and we thank you in advance for your consideration.
Link to the original letter: https://sven-giegold.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/2019-03-21_ExxonMOBIL_lobby-badges.pdf