19 August 2002

Africa: Corporate-funded Lobbyists Aimed to Sabotage Johannesburg Summit

press release

Washington, DC — Lobbyists from leading far right-wing organizations including Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, American Enterprise Institute and Competitive Enterprise Institute - many who have received substantial funding from corporations such as ExxonMobil - have joined forces to sabotage the up-coming World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg by actively discouraging U.S participation and applauding President Bush's decision to snub the event.

Friends of the Earth has obtained a letter to President Bush sent by 31 groups and individuals applauding the President's decision not to attend and efforts by his negotiators to prevent any progress on climate change negotiations or any new multilateral agreements.

"This letter highlights the disturbing connection between President Bush and the corporate polluters who helped finance his bid for the White House," said Friends of the Earth President, Dr. Brent Blackwelder. "Environmentally and socially irresponsible corporations and their operatives are lobbying the Administration to snub the Summit and halt any progress toward addressing environmental accountability and global climate change."

The letter, dated August 2nd, says "we applaud your decision not to attend the Summit in person ...Even more than the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, the Johannesburg Summit will provide a global media stage for many of the most irresponsible and destructive elements involved in critical international economic and environmental issues. Your presence would only help to publicize and make more credible various anti-freedom, anti-people, anti-globalization, and anti-Western agendas."

Asserting that "potential" global warming is "the least important global environmental issue," the letter calls upon U.S. negotiators attending the summit in Johannesburg to "keep it off the table and out of the spotlight."

"Given the recent revelations of corporate fraud, the case for a binding international agreement that would hold corporations accountable for their environmentally destructive actions has never been stronger," added Blackwelder.

Signatories include: Fred L Smith and Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute - Funding from Exxon $280,000 in 2001; Craig Rucker from the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) - Funding from ExxonMobil $35,000 in 2001; Steven Hayward from the American Enterprise Institute - Funding from ExxonMobil $230,000 in 2001; Terrence Scanlon from the Capital Research Center - Funding from ExxonMobil $25,000 in 2001; Joseph L Bast of the Heartland Institute - funding from ExxonMobil $90,000 in 2001; Deroy Murdock of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation (AERF) - Funding from ExxonMobil $150,000 in 2001; H Stirling Burnett of the National Center for Policy Analysis - Funding from ExxonMobil $20,000 in 2001.

Friends of the Earth International is calling on world leaders at the WSSD to institute binding global corporate accountability measures, including rights for citizens and communities to seek legal redress, and duties for corporations to disclose their environmental and social impacts and performance.

Friends of the Earth is the world's largest environmental coalition with over 70 member groups in 69 countries.

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