Africa: Climate Agenda of South Africa Energy Giant Sasol Exposed

press release

Durban — Polluting companies and multinational corporations are exerting pressure on government climate policies and seeking to undermine global action on the climate crisis, Friends of the Earth International warned today.

The world's leading grassroots environmental organisation today released the first of a series of case studies [1] highlighting how government positions and policies on climate change and other environmental issues are being increasingly hijacked by narrow corporate interests linked to polluting industries and companies which are seeking to profit from the climate crisis.

The first of these case studies outlines the practices and positions of South African energy giant Sasol, which was exposed today as releasing 61.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually and is the world leader in coal-to-liquid technology. [2]

Sasol is just one of the major corporations that seek to influence governments before and during the UN climate negotiations. The company has representatives on the South Africa government's official delegation to the climate talks taking place in Durban this week.

The UN talks are attended by hundreds of lobbyists from the corporate sector, many of whom try to ensure that the outcomes of the negotiations promote the interests of big business over the protection of the environment and the wellbeing of people and communities.

In the case study launched today, Friends of the Earth International reveals Sasol's close ties with the South African government and the areas in which it is seeking to influence national and international level policies on climate change.

Sasol has faced heavy criticism for levels of air and water pollution at its Sasolburg coal to liquid plants, which have had severe impacts on the local populations' health.

According to Sasol's own figures, for the year ended June 2011 the company's direct carbon dioxide emissions for its operations in South Africa amounted to 11 per cent of the country's greenhouse gas emissions.

However, Sasol is highly regarded by the South African government, who sees it is an innovative leader in technology and industry.

According to Bobby Peek of groundwork/Friends of the Earth South Africa:

"Sasol is a key supplier of energy in South Africa and is promoting climate inaction and false solutions which allow it to continue to profit from pollution. Sasol has no right to be on the South African delegation representing its dirty agenda in a process which is supposed to be about finding clean, urgent and effective solutions to the climate crisis."

Friends of the Earth International chair Nnimmo Bassey said:

"The climate policies of governments around the world are being increasingly hijacked by narrow corporate interests linked to polluting industries and industries which are seeking to profit from the climate crisis.

This corporate and elite capture of decision-making at the national level is key to why governments are failing to make progress in the international climate talks and deliver the urgent economic transformation we need to avoid absolute climate catastrophe"

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