Pollution scandal companies sponsor COP26 conference in Glasgow as campaigners slam UK government

Multinational companies accused of a litany of environmental scandals have been listed as official sponsors of the COP26 climate change conference.

The Sunday Mail can reveal that giants like Unilever, SSE, Sainsbury’s and Reckitt were chosen as “key partners” for the vital UN summit in Glasgow in November.

Campaigners accused the UK government – which is hosting the talks – of facilitating corporate “greenwashing” and reducing the chances of tackling catastrophic global warming by allowing corporate influence.

Mary Friends of the Earth Church in Scotland said: “Big business is using the prestige of sponsoring events like these to distract from the dirtier, more polluting side of how they earn their money. money and gain privileged access to decision-makers.

“COP26 should aim to implement the necessary measures to combat climate degradation during this critical decade. Instead, it becomes a showcase for greenwashing.

Mary Friends of the Earth Church in Scotland

“Corporate influence is a key factor in governments’ failure to implement real and transformative solutions that would not only solve the climate crisis, but also improve the lives of ordinary people. It is high time that the big polluters were kicked out of the climate COP.

“SSE, in particular, has made no public commitments to shut down the Peterhead gas plant or to put in place a plan to ensure a just transition for workers, despite it being the most polluting site. from Scotland.

“It’s hard to see how they meet the UK government’s COP26 sponsorship criteria for credible short-term climate action plans.

“Net zero goals do not equate to climate leadership, with rich countries and big corporations too often relying on speculative technology or questionable carbon offsets to achieve them. The only way to avoid a climate catastrophe is to quickly phase out fossil fuels as part of a just transition to a renewable energy economy. “

Energy giant SSE has been named as the lead partner despite being the operator of Scotland’s largest pollution site. Figures compiled by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency in 2019 showed 1.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide were being emitted from its Peterhead gas power station in the north-east.

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Last year, Unilever was accused of being one of the four global beverage giants responsible for more than half a million tonnes of plastic pollution in six developing countries each year – enough to cover 83 pitches of football every day.

The NGO Tearfund calculated the greenhouse gas emissions from the open burning of plastic bottles, bags and cartons produced by the company, with Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé, in developing countries, where waste can be mismanaged because people do not have access to collections.

Unilever has also been criticized by Greenpeace for claims it has encouraged deforestation in Indonesia through its use of palm oil.

In 2016, the Indian arm of the global consumer giant struck a deal with hundreds of former employees to end a long-running dispute over allegations of mercury poisoning at one of its manufacturing plants.

Meanwhile, in 2019, Greenpeace criticized another official COP26 partner, Sainsbury’s, for failing to reduce the amount of plastic waste it produces. The environmental charity has targeted the supermarket after it was found to be “worst-in-class” in a 2018 survey of retailers’ plastic policies.

Sainsbury’s made the least progress among Britain’s top 10 supermarkets, according to Greenpeace, pledging to cut just 77 tonnes of plastic packaging compared to 6,500 tonnes for Asda and 3,766 tonnes for Morrisons.

Two girls on a march for climate change in Glasgow

In 2016, UK COP26 sponsor Reckitt Benckiser admitted to selling a disinfectant humidifier that killed around 100 people in South Korea. It was among several companies whose products are blamed for the deaths and compensation was offered to the families of those who died, as well as hundreds of others injured.

In 2017, campaigners accused COP26 partner National Grid of failing to live up to the Paris Agreement on climate change after releasing a report on how energy supplies could grow in the country. ‘to come up. In the report, the private company – which runs Britain’s high-voltage electricity grid – considered scenarios including one called Two Degrees, saying it was based on the Paris Agreement’s goal of maximum global warming.

The environmental group WWF criticized the company for its lack of ambition, saying it had not taken into account the real objective set out in the Paris document.

Earlier this year, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline – also an official partner of COP26 – revealed that its asthma inhalers were its biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions. The well-known Blue Ventolin devices contain a greenhouse gas called HFA, which generates the equivalent of five million tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

Peterhead Power Plant

The company sold for £ 785million worth of Ventolin last year despite producing an alternative product used in Scandinavia that does not involve harmful gases.

Meanwhile, NatWest Bank signed up as an official sponsor although President Howard Davies previously chaired the Airports Commission, which recommended Heathrow to proceed with a third runway despite fierce opposition from climatologists.

Labor spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: “We cannot allow COP26 to become a greenwashing opportunity for multinationals. We are facing a climate crisis and governments must rise to the challenge without corporate interference. “

Scottish green Mark Ruskell said: “We don’t have time for the UK government to help companies with their public relations. We must act to reduce emissions and tackle nature’s emergency before it is too late.

Scottish Lib Dem MP Liam McArthur said: ‘The fact that many of these companies are lip service to green ideals while continuing to fail in practice shows that there is a lot to be done if we are to avoid a disaster.

A spokesperson for COP26 said: “All of our sponsors have met the robust sponsorship criteria, which includes making net zero commitments with a credible plan of action to achieve this.”

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