Friends of the Earth Europe joins NGOs in refusing invitations to speak at fossil fuel sponsored media debates.
Sixteen leading European civil society organisations have announced they will no longer accept invitations to speak at media events on EU policy sponsored by fossil fuel companies, in an open letter published today and addressed to the editors of three European news organisations.
The letter addresses the editors of Euractiv, the Financial Times and Politico Europe. These three outlets have all hosted debates or events on EU climate and energy policy in the past 12 months involving EU decision makers and with sponsorship from fossil fuel companies.
Myriam Douo, corporates campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said:
“Through their prominent debates in Brussels sponsored by fossil fuel companies, Politico, the FT and Euractiv are giving fossil fuel companies an outsize platform to influence European democracy and pour fuel on the fire of the climate crisis. Just like with the tobacco industry before, we need to cut the influence of fossil fuels from our politics.”
Other news organisations that run events in English have not done so in 2020 or 2021 with the support of fossil fuel companies, as far as the signatories to the open letter are aware.
At these events, representatives from the sponsoring companies often have the privilege of being key-note speakers – thus framing the issues at stake for panellists, which regularly include European Commissioners, Members of the European Parliament, and other EU officials responsible for aspects of climate and energy policy.
There have been 29 EU media events in 2020 and 2021 to date sponsored by fossil fuel companies. 50 of the panellists at those events have been senior EU officials.
Lala Hakuma Dadci, coordinator of Fossil Free Politics said:
“When your house is on fire, you don’t need advice from the people who surrounded it with kindling and struck a match – especially if that advice is to look into different types of kindling and fancier matches. Fossil fuel companies sponsor media events as part of a strategy to set the terms of the EU debate on climate and energy in ways that suit them and put themselves in the centre. They exploit the credibility of trusted news brands to get close to EU decision makers and delay the urgent action needed to prevent climate breakdown.”
Silvia Pastorelli, climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace EU said:
“We believe in the vital importance of a free and independent media. The excellent work done by journalists at these news organisations to serve the European public with timely and accurate reporting on the climate and ecological crises is, sadly, undermined when other parts of the same news brands sell a podium to coal, oil and gas companies. Fossil fuel companies use these events to promote their private interests to EU decision makers and the public – even at the cost of global climate breakdown – and we refuse to legitimise that by our participation.”
Fossil Free Politics monitors EU media events and, when one is announced with fossil fuel sponsorship, contacts any EU and civil society panellists to ask them to withdraw their participation in order not to be complicit in the green-washing and lobbying efforts of these climate-wrecking companies.
The signatories to the open letter are: Friends of the Earth Europe, Fossil Free Politics, 350.org, Alter-EU, CIDSE, Corporate Europe Observatory, Counter Balance, European Federation of Public Service Unions, Food and Water Action Europe, Global Witness, Greenpeace, HEAL, Naturefriends International, Transport & Environment, Youth for Climate, WWF European Policy Office.