New data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released today showing that 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record is almost certain to re-ignite debate on both sides of the climate issue. Already, influencers (many highlighted in a 2010 report by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalism) are arguing over just how valid the evidence is, and what to do about it.
International climate change negotiations resumed today at a UN meeting in Mexico, but gains are expected to be modest and focused on narrow issues such as forest protection and climate financing for developing countries.
Like a lot of industry groups, the farm lobby says it would prefer that Congress tackle climate change rather than leaving the job to the bureaucrats at the Environmental Protection Agency. But now, the prospect of EPA greenhouse gas regulation looms large — mostly because agriculture and so many other interests haven’t liked any of the climate bills so far on Capitol Hill.
Washington — The next round of the battle over climate change policy on Capitol Hill will involve more than the usual suspects. Way more. Watch soup makers face off against steel companies. Witness the folks who pump gas from the ground fight back against those who dig up rock. And watch the venture capitalists who have money riding on new technology try to gain advantage in a game that so far has been deftly controlled by the old machine.
In short, even though President Obama pledged to the world at Copenhagen that the United States is committed to action on global warming, the domestic politics are only growing “curiouser and curiouser,” as Alice might say from Wonderland. An analysis of the latest federal records by The Center for Public Integrity shows that the overall number of businesses and groups lobbying on climate legislation has essentially held steady at about 1,160, thanks in part to a variety of interests that have left the fray. But a close look at the 140 or so interests that jumped into the debate for the first time in the third quarter shows a marked trend: Companies and organizations which feel they’ve been overlooked are fighting for a place at the table.
In other words, as the action moved to the Senate in recent months, still more sectors of the economy waded into the battle. This occurred even though the issue and interests are already so complex that Congress failed to pass legislation this year as hoped, and even though the House more than doubled its draft bill to 1,428 pages to address an array of industry concerns and gain passage back in June. The amount of money involved likely rose as well. Although amounts spent on lobbying by issue are not disclosed, if the groups involved spent just 10 percent of their lobbying budgets on climate, they shelled out $30.5 million in the third quarter — up nearly 13 percent over the previous quarter.
Washington — Determining the influence of industry on legislation in the United States is tough. But tracking influence on an international scale can be a nightmare, as International Consortium of Investigative Journalism members found this year while reporting our Global Climate Change Lobby series.
ICIJ, an arm of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Integrity, runs a unique network of 100 journalists in 50 countries. In the run-up to the Copenhagen climate talks, ICIJ fielded an eight-country team of reporters to examine the special interests trying to influence the debate. Reporters interviewed top lobbyists, analyzed industry campaigns and strategy, and tried to obtain government reports on those lobbying on climate change issues around the world. Using computer-assisted reporting techniques, this last effort offered the hardest data but also proved the most frustrating.
COPENHAGEN — They started appearing at business and industry meetings in 2001 after Marrakesh — the UN climate meeting that established rules for a global market for trading greenhouse gases. Representatives for the emissions trading industry became increasingly more visible and today compete with rich, well-connected carbon-emitters for international influence.
COPENHAGEN — More than almost any other industry, oil has a lot hanging in the balance as world leaders meet here to discuss a low-carbon future. The world’s two largest publicly traded companies, Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, together earned nearly $8 billion in the last quarter alone.
Copenhagen — “Lobby On!” exclaimed Rosa Kiltgaar Andersen of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers. Andersen was wrapping up a closed-door meeting here in Copenhagen at which farmers from India to Australia discussed how to influence delegates at the climate change talks.