By Arthur Neslen
20 April 2016
(The Guardian) – The EU abandoned or weakened key proposals for new environmental protections after receiving a letter from a top BP executive which warned of an exodus of the oil industry from Europe if the proposals went ahead.
In the 10-page letter, the company predicted in 2013 that a mass industry flight would result if laws to regulate tar sands, cut power plant pollution and accelerate the uptake of renewable energy were passed, because of the extra costs and red tape they allegedly entailed.
The measures “threaten to drive energy-intensive industries, such as refining and petrochemicals, to relocate outside the EU with a correspondingly detrimental impact on security of supply, jobs [and] growth,” said the letter, which was obtained by the Guardian under access to documents laws.
The missive to the EU’s energy commissioner, Günther Oettinger, was dated 9 August 2013, partly hand-written, and signed by a senior BP representative whose name has been redacted.
It references a series of “interactions” between the two men – and between BP and an unnamed third party in Washington DC – and welcomes opportunities to further discuss energy issues in an “informal manner”.
BP’s warning of a fossil fuel pull-out from Europe was repeated three times in the letter, most stridently over plans to mandate new pollution cuts and clean technologies, under the industrial emissions directive.
This reform “has the potential to have a massively adverse economic impact on the costs and competitiveness of European refining and petrochemical industries, and trigger a further exodus outside the EU,” the letter said.
The plant regulations eventually advanced by the commission would leave Europe under a weaker pollution regime than China’s, according to research by Greenpeace.
BP said any clampdown would cost industry many billions of euros and so pollution curbs “should also be carefully accessed with close co-operation with the industrial sectors”.
Last year the EU’s environment department moved to limit the coal lobby’s influence on pollution standards, after revelations by the Guardian and Greenpeace about the scale of industry involvement.
The Green MEP Molly Scott Cato said that the UK’s robust advocacy of BP’s positions was a cause of deep shame, and illustrated how Brexit would increase the power of fossil fuel firms.
She said: “It reveals how the arm-twisting tactics of big oil seek to undermine the EU’s progressive energy and climate policies. BP’s covert lobbying, combined with threats of an exodus of the petrochemicals industry from the EU, are nothing short of blackmail.” [more]