Greenwash and EU lobby scandals exposed for public vote

15 October 2007

Launch of online voting for the "Worst EU Lobbying" Awards 2007 at www.worstlobby.eu

Brussels, 15 October - Public voting for the "Worst EU Lobbying" Awards 2007 opened online today at www.worstlobby.eu Organised by Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth Europe, LobbyControl and Spinwatch, the annual award for deceptive, manipulative and unethical lobbying this year includes a new special "Worst Greenwash" category for the company whose advertising is most at odds with the real environmental impacts of its business activities.

Through the Worst EU Lobbying Awards, the organisers aim to raise public awareness of controversial lobbying practices in Brussels, and put pressure on politicians to introduce effective EU lobbying transparency and ethics rules.

Until 24th November 2007, the general public can vote for the nominee they consider to have engaged in the most outrageous lobbying and greenwashing from a shortlist of five candidates in each of the two categories.

In the "Worst Lobbyist" category, the shortlist selected from 27 nominations received is:

  • BMW, Daimler and Porsche for their full-scale lobbying offensive to water-down and delay the EU mandatory targets for CO2 emissions from cars;
  • EU public affairs consultancy Cabinet Stewart for running the International Council of Capital Formation (ICCF) - this so-called 'unique European think-tank' is in fact a front group for US-based opponents of the Kyoto Protocol;
  • Viscount Etienne Davignon, for advising EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel about African development issues, even though he sits on the board for Suez - a transnational corporation looking to expand its energy and water business into Africa;
  • The European Public Affairs Consultancies Association (EPACA) for its high-profile counter-campaign against the European Commission's plans for a lobby transparency register;
  • Repsol for misshaping the EU's research agenda on agrofuels to fit narrow commercial interests, at the expense of genuine measures to combat climate change.

"Once again the cases show that lobbyists employ heavy-handed and deceptive tactics if their core-business is at stake", criticises Olivier Hoedeman from Corporate Europe Observatory. "In order to enable public scrutiny of lobbying, we need effective transparency regulations that allow the public and decision-makers to see who is lobbying whom on whose behalf and for how much money."

But it's not only about the behaviour of lobbyists. Special Advisor Etienne Davignon has just been re-appointed by Commissioner Michel, despite what looks like a clear conflict of interest. "This case shows that the European Commission has not done its homework yet. The European institutions need to urgently develop stricter ethical rules," stresses Ulrich Mueller from LobbyControl.

In the "Worst Greenwash" category, the shortlist selected from 19 nominations received is:

  • Airbus for a series of adverts in which passenger jet silhouettes are filled with beautiful landscapes, pretending that their aeroplanes are green and clean;
  • BAE systems for promoting deadly weapons as environmentally friendly;
  • ExxonMobil for purporting it is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions while in reality its emissions are increasing;
  • The German Atomic Forum for its campaign "unloved climate protectionists", abusing the public's concern about climate change to promote nuclear energy;
  • Shell for an advert suggesting that their oil refineries emit flowers not smoke.

This year's nominations reflect the intense public debate about climate change. "The increased debate about climate change has given rise to a new wave of greenwash in Europe," explains Christine Pohl from Friends of the Earth Europe. "Corporations manipulate the public and try to create the impression that their behaviour is the solution to climate change whereas in reality they are part of the problem."

Online public voting is open until November 24. The award winners will be announced on December 4th at an awards ceremony in Brussels.

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NOTES TO EDITORS:
You can find a briefing compiling detailed explanations of the case against each of this year's nominees at http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2007/Media_Briefing_Worst_EU_Lobbying_Candidates07.pdf
These texts are also available on the Awards' website.

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