The European Corporate Climate Lobby
As global warming increasingly became a big political issue within Europe and government action became more likely as a result, industry groups stepped up their efforts to prevent actions that might interfere with the conduct of business. Rather than establishing new specialised lobby organisations on climate issues, European industry has preferred to work through established corporate lobby groups such as the employers' organisation, UNICE, the chemical industry federation, CEFIC, and the European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT).
hese groups, under the leadership of the ERT, joined their voices in a pre-emptive move to promote industry voluntary action as an alternative to government regulation - particularly the proposed EU-wide energy tax. Simultaneously, European corporate groups have been pushing for the unrestricted implementation of the Kyoto mechanisms, including full acceptance of carbon 'sinks' and nuclear energy as legitimate greenhouse gas reduction possibilities.
The ERT's 'Positive Action'
The European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT), a club of 48 'captains of industry' of the largest European TNCs with privileged access to EU and national decision-makers, has been at the forefront in promoting industry self-regulation over government-enforceable mechanisms. Targeting COP-6, the ERT released a new report on climate change in mid-October.  The report showcases some company schemes that supposedly reduce greenhouse gas emissions based on the sorts of voluntary approaches championed by the ERT and others.
"It was felt that the ERT message needed to be refreshed," explained Katie Harris, co-ordinator of the ERT's Working Group on Climate Change. . The message to the EU is that it should, "offer business the flexibility needed to develop appropriate approaches," in other words, refrain from imposing regulatory measures on industry. The report is a strategically timed effort to influence EU decision-makers. "As always, the ERT message will be communicated by ERT members to the European institutions," Harris explained.
In the report, the group calls for voluntary action by industry and market-based solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As proof of industry's commitment, the report profiled a number of factories in which ERT member corporations invested in new technologies and as a result, supposedly reduced total CO2 emissions. However, statistical information about the amount of global CO2 emissions caused by ERT member companies remains suspiciously absent. Based on these isolated examples, the report recommends technological development, Joint Implementation and emissions trading as the ways forward. The ERT urges the European Commission and national governments to gather public support for these 'solutions' and to "avoid politicising the issue". 
The ERT launched this `positive action' approach in the run-up to the Kyoto Summit back in 1997, when its 'Environmental Watchdog Group' issued a similar glossy report outlining, 'How to Choose the Right Policies for Europe'.  The 1997 report signalled a major shift in lobbying strategy on the part of European industry. Then Assistant Secretary-General Caroline Walcot told the media that the report, "was intended to mark a new, positive tone," and a move away from earlier ERT reports on climate change, which she admitted were, "defensive."  The 1997 report stressed that it considered the proposed EU CO2/energy tax as an example of "how to get it wrong."  The industry group clearly saw that government action on climate change was unavoidable, and that efforts were needed in order to head off potential threats to industry. The ERT remains confident that its strategy of corporate environmentalism, seeking to position industry as part of the solution, will take the wind out of the environmental movement's sails. As Caroline Walcot puts it, "The green groups are creaking with age ... The lesson from COP-2 was that they just don't recognise that it is a different world, with different needs. All they succeed in doing is making it more difficult for industry to take positive action on a voluntary level." 
Both UNICE and CEFIC have fully embraced this approach and actively lobby in the EU capitals and at UN climate negotiations for industry voluntary action as the alternative to government regulation. CEFIC, comprised of national chemical industry federations as well as companies like BP, ICI, Monsanto Europe, Novartis, Repsol, Shell, and Union Carbide, has a long tradition of fighting government regulation.  CEFIC insists that the chemical industry is highly energy consuming and particularly exposed to world competition, therefore any measure that increases its energy costs vis-à-vis other trading partners, such as through energy taxes, will profoundly impact its competitiveness.  The chemical industry argues instead for voluntary agreements with governments on implementing energy efficiency schemes in the sector , to be complemented with the purchase of emissions permits from the world market. CEFIC rejects any absolute targets being imposed on the chemical industry and bluntly threatens to, "relocate to cap-free countries," warning that the end result will not help the environment and will bring massive job losses to the EU. 
The European employers confederation, UNICE, lobbies hard for voluntary agreements in its detailed responses to every EU policy proposal as well as at UN meetings on climate issues. At the last UN negotiations before COP-6 (in Lyon, France from September 11-15th), UNICE was given the floor during the closing session - an opportunity it used to reiterate its demands for the unrestricted use of the Kyoto mechanisms to achieve reductions. At the same time, UNICE is still hoping to avoid binding reduction targets. Referring to European competitiveness, UNICE cynically demands that the EU should delay ratification of the Kyoto Protocol until Southern countries have also committed to greenhouse gas reductions and until the major trading partners, such as the United States, have ratified the Protocol.
The three major European industrial lobby groups all actively oppose an EU-wide energy tax- a proposal that would help to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the region. UNICE consistently claims that an EU energy tax would destroy industry's global competitiveness and would neither create jobs nor significantly reduce CO2 emissions.  They argue instead that any new EU climate policy or measure should undergo a Business Impact Assessment similar to the concept of an Environmental Impact Assessment, whereby any new legislative measures are "tested for their cost-effectiveness, as well as for their potential impact on the Single Market and industrial competitiveness."  At a meeting with EU Transport Commissioner and Vice-President Loyola de Palacio in September, UNICE boss Dirk Hudig claimed that the high energy bills of European companies are "threatening EU competitiveness." Hudig called on the EU to "realise how essential it is to cut energy taxes in Europe to more reasonable levels, in line with those paid by our competitors." 
CEFIC has also done its utmost to dodge the imposition of an energy tax over the past decade. Former CEFIC Director for Climate Issues Bent Jensen recalled attempts by then Environment Commissioner Carlo Ripa de Meana to introduce such a tax back in 1991, "We took a very hard step on that. He left Brussels in a hurry. Really, industry did not want this taxation."  Emissions trading is also being used to justify CEFIC's anti-tax position with their claim that trading, in combination with voluntary agreements, completes the 'environmental toolkit' that business can use to reduce emissions, making the introduction of new taxes completely unnecessary.
Europe, and particularly Brussels, has in recent years witnessed the mushrooming of corporate think tanks. Inspired by the influential role of similar think tanks in US politics, institutes like the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) aim to shape the EU political agenda around corporate interests.  In the run-up to COP-6, CEPS has formed a working group on 'EU Climate Change Policy: Priorities for COP-6', chaired by BP Amoco's Barbara Kuryk  The group aims to contribute to steering EU political discourse away from government regulation and towards corporate-friendly 'solutions' like voluntary initiatives and market-based mechanisms. It also wants to see Southern countries accept binding CO2 reduction commitments.
CEPS, one of the most
active corporate think tanks in Brussels with 40 paid staff, has throughout
the year organised a series of workshops on the corporate agenda for COP-6.
 The workshops are followed by reports
with policy recommendations to be submitted to decision-makers in Brussels
and the EU capitals. The latest CEPS report, from September 2000, presents
feedback to the European Commission's proposals for an EU-wide emissions
trading scheme, which the group has much praise for. The climate working
group, with the active participation of mega-corporations such as BP Amoco
and Lafarge, has succeeded in building links with mainstream environmental
groups including Climate Network Europe (CNE) and the World Wide Fund
for Nature (WWF). CNE even went as far as to co-sponsor CEPS' May 19 workshop
on voluntary industry action.