Limited access for the Civil Society in the COP process


Two years ago, a significant portion of civil society delegates to COP19 simply walked out. They had agreed to leave the COP19 together to denounce the perceived closeness of governments to industrial lobbies, and to express their rejection of the false solutions. Today, the COP 21 seems to offer to multinationals advertising opportunities and privileged access of economic agents to policy makers and the negotiations space.

The sponsors of the COP21 – an advertisement for big corporations
Among the official sponsors of the COP 21[1], we find a large number of multinationals (including Engie, Renault-Nissan, EDF, BNP Paribas, etc.). We find notably key actors of the nuclear sector: EDF, which operates the 58 reactors at 19 nuclear plants across France, Areva, which manages the chain from fuel to plant – extraction and enrichment of uranium, transportation, recycling some of the waste … – and builds reactors, Engie (ex GDF-Suez), which has investments in Chooz and Tricastin plants and operates seven reactors in Belgium by Electrabel, Bouygues, specialized in plants structures – from the construction of the Flamanville EPR to the “sarcophagus” covering the Chernobyl plant- and Alstom, which designs turbines for nuclear power plants. BNP Paribas is also one of the sponsors, which is the largest bank in the euro area but also one of the most involved banks in the financing of nuclear power (13.5 billion euros between 2000 and 2009). Bolloré and Renault-Nissan are also key actors by defending the nuclear-powered electric cars.
To be one of the COP21 sponsors is a major opportunity for advertising. The brochure “Become a partner”[2], developed by the Secretariat responsible for the organization of the COP in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, provides the business case to attract sponsors: “The partners of COP21 will have the opportunity to Showcase their actions to the most important climate stakeholders. “Brand your organisation as a climate leader before and during COP21”. “Network with more than 500 leaders.” “Speak on panels with high-level leaders from the public and private sector”.Moreover, they are ensured of having a 60% tax-exempt for their contribution.

The exhibition “COP21 Solutions” – solutions by and for multinationals
The exhibition “COP21 solutions”, which takes place from 4 to 10 December at the Grand Palais in Paris, is expected to attract nearly 50,000 visitors. Event partners, such as Engie and Renault-Nissan[3], have paid large sums to obtain high visibility within the exhibition and privileged access to policymakers. Among the “solutions” presented on the climate solutions hub, there is a near monopoly of the multinationals. On the 284 “solutions”, more than two-thirds come from companies, to which should be added solutions from professional associations and research institutions with very similar economic backgrounds. SMEs can be counted on the fingers of both hands. In this way, the solutions advocated by large companies are present in force. For example, Engie has presented 27 solutions, nearly 10% of solutions presented on the website. A little more than forty solutions come from local authorities, and only 17 come from associations.
The French government has never hidden that his choice to focus on “solutions” was intended to advertise the products and technologies of French companies. The sponsors of the COP21 and the COP21 Solutions partners are recruited among the leading names of the French CAC 40. There are the two “historic” operators of the French market for electricity and gas, EDF (Electricité de France) and Engie (formerly GDF-Suez), for which the French state still holds respectively 84 and 33% of these companies. They have made a point of advertising themselves as the “Official partner of a low carbon world” for EDF or Engie, as the “European leader in energy transition”.
The events around the COP 21- a privileged access for multinationals
Beyond advertising offered to multinationals, there is the issue of privileged access of economic agents to policy makers and the negotiations space. “COP21 solutions” is not the only major event scheduled in December to promote “solutions” from multinationals. Many others events promoting business will also take place around the COP21, such as:
–       World Climate Summit, on 6 December at the Hotel Potocki, which describes itself as an ” original business, finance and government forum”. The entrance ticket is 1100 dollars for this summit and for the Sustainia charity gala that will bring together “senior business leaders and government officials”[4].
–       The “caring for climate business” Forum on 7 and 8 December in Le Bourget, is only accessible by invitation. It’s organized by the Global Compact of the UN, which continues to give privileged access to multinationals.
–       – The “Energy for Tomorrow” conference is organized by the New York Times on 8 and 9 December at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris. The entrance ticket costs 1200 euros for this event sponsored by Total, Renauld-Nissan and the American Chamber of Commerce in France.
–       The “Sustainable Innovation” Forum organized on 7 and 8 December by the United Nations Environment Programme and sponsored by BMW and nuclear giant Vattenfal. It is the largest official event parallel to COP21 and is presented as “the most important event focused on the business world during the COP”. It also has a web site whose address is confusing:

The civil society organisations seem to have disappeared from the landscape of these events planned around the Grand Palais in December. Nevertheless, solutions are not possible without civil society participation. During the 15 days of negotiations, NTW supports civil society organizations presence in Paris to weigh into the debate.