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“ExxonMobil Lobbyists Shall Have their Access Badges”, Says EU Parliament

In a letter dated Wednesday, ExxonMobile said the oil company is "constrained from participating because of ongoing climate litigation in the United States"

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FILE - The Exxon Mobil logo is shown at a gas station in Denver, Colorado, US. VOA

The European Parliament faced calls Thursday to strip ExxonMobil lobbyists of their access badges after the US oil giant missed the assembly’s first hearing into claims it knowingly misled the public on climate change.

Greens deputy Molly Scott Cato told the hearing in Brussels she would formally make the request later Thursday to deny ExxonMobil its six registered parliament access badges.

Activists and scientists told the hearing that ExxonMobil has for decades misled the public about the threat climate change poses to the world, comparing it the tobacco lobby’s past campaign.

Under parliamentary rules, Cato said, “lobbyists shall have their access badges denied” when they refuse without good reason to comply with a formal summons to attend a committee hearing or inquiry.

“I believe this provides us with grounds we need to withdraw Exxon’s lobby badges,” the British MEP said, adding she would write a letter to that effect later Thursday.

Her call was supported by MEP Eleonora Evi, who sits on the petition and environment committees that hosted the first EU public hearing into Exxon’s approach to climate change.

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“I believe this provides us with grounds we need to withdraw Exxon’s lobby badges,” the British MEP said, adding she would write a letter to that effect later Thursday. Pixabay

In a letter dated Wednesday, ExxonMobile said the oil company is “constrained from participating because of ongoing climate litigation in the United States.”

It said it was concerned that public commentary, including at the Brussels hearing, “could prejudice those pending proceedings,” according to a copy obtained by AFP.

Geoffrey Supran, a Harvard University researcher, told the panel that Exxon has known since 1959 that fossil fuel burning “was sufficient to melt the ice cap and submerge New York” but yet publicly cast doubt on the threat for years.

A peer-reviewed study of nearly 200 documents spanning decades and co-authored by Supran found that four-fifths of scientific studies and internal memos acknowledged global warming is real and caused by humans.

At the same time, a similar proportion of hundreds of paid editorials in major US newspapers over the same period cast deep doubt on these widely accepted facts, according to the study published last year.

“The most fundamental thing this [Brussels] hearing does is start to put the evidence on record,” Supran told AFP.

 

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In 2017, the European Parliament decided to deny access to Monsanto executives and lobbyists after the US agro giant turned down an invitation to a hearing over claims Monsanto influenced scientific research on a weedkiller’s safety.

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“It also adds momentum and precedent to calls for US Congress and other governments to hold similar hearings into what Exxon and the entire fossil fuel industry knew and did about climate change,” he said.

In 2017, the European Parliament decided to deny access to Monsanto executives and lobbyists after the US agro giant turned down an invitation to a hearing over claims Monsanto influenced scientific research on a weedkiller’s safety. (VOA)

Next Story

Europe’s Voters Elect EU Parliament as Nationalism Mounts

Pivotal elections for the European Union parliament reach their climax Sunday as the last 21 nations go to the polls and results are announced

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Europe's Voters, EU Parliament
A man casts his vote in the European Parliament Elections, during the Belgian general and regional elections and European Parliament Elections, in Limal, Belgium, May 26, 2019. VOA

Pivotal elections for the European Union parliament reach their climax Sunday as the last 21 nations go to the polls and results are announced in a vote that boils down to a continentwide battle between euroskeptic populists and proponents of closer EU unity.

Right-wing nationalists who want to slash immigration into Europe and return power to national governments are expected to make gains, though mainstream parties are expected to hold onto power in the 751-seat legislature that sits in both Brussels and Strasbourg.

Salvini vs Macron

Leading the challenge to the established order is Italy’s hard-line interior minister, Matteo Salvini, head of the League party, who is assembling a group of like-minded parties from across Europe.

“We need to do everything that is right to free this country, this continent, from the illegal occupation organized by Brussels,” Salvini told a rally in Milan last weekend that was attended by the leaders of 11 nationalist parties.

Europe's Voters, EU Parliament
Geert Wilders, leader of Dutch party PVV (Party for Freedom), Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, Marine Le Pen, leader of French National Rally party attend a major rally of European nationalist and far-right parties in Milan, May 18, 2019. VOA

Proponents of stronger EU integration, led by French President Emmanuel Macron, argue that issues like climate change and reining in immigration are simply too big for any one country to tackle alone.

Macron, whose country has been rocked in recent months by the populist yellow vest movement, has called the elections “the most important since 1979 because the (European) Union is facing an existential risk” from nationalists seeking to divide the bloc.

Sunday promises to be a long day and night for election watchers — the last polls close at 11 p.m. (2100 GMT) in Italy, but the European Parliament plans to begin issuing estimates and projections hours earlier with the first official projection of the makeup of the new parliament at 11:15 p.m. (2115 GMT).

Right-wing populists top opinion polls in two of the big four member states — Italy and supposedly exiting Britain — and could also win in a third, France, rattling a pro-Union campaign championed by centrist Macron.

Exit polls

However, exit polls in some countries that have already voted have given pro-EU parties some comfort. The Dutch Labour party, all but written off, looks to have finished first, helped by the visibility of having the EU socialists’ lead candidate, current EU deputy chief executive Frans Timmermans.

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In the Netherlands pro-Union parties scored 70%, up three points on the last European Parliament vote in 2014, and left the upstart anti-immigration party of Thierry Baudet fourth at 11%.

The Dutch also turned out in bigger numbers, albeit at just 41%, reinforcing hopes in Brussels of reversing a 40-year trend of declining turnout that critics cite as a “democratic deficit” that undermines the legitimacy of European Union lawmaking.

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A man walks by an installation encouraging people to vote in the European elections at Luxembourg metro station in Brussels, May 24, 2019. About 400 million Europeans from 28 countries will head to the polls May 23-26 to choose lawmakers to represent them. VOA

An exit poll after Friday’s vote in deeply pro-EU Ireland pointed to an expected “Green Wave.” Across the bloc, concerns about climate change and the environment may bolster the pro-EU Greens group and could mean tighter regulations for industry and for the terms the EU may set for partners seeking trade accords.

As the dust settles on four days of elections, European leaders will begin the task of selecting candidates for the top jobs in the EU’s headquarters in Brussels. The leaders meet for a summit over dinner Tuesday night.

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Current European lawmakers’ terms end July 1 and the new parliament will take their seats in Strasbourg the following day. (VOA)