Anglo American’s Dirty Energy Lobby and its False Climate Solutions

Anglo American's dirty energy lobby and its false climate solutionsPublished by: Friends of the Earth International (FoEE), Transnational Institute (TNI), Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), November 2014

Authors: Lúcia Ortiz, Pascoe Sabido, Rachel Tansey, Lyda Fernanda Forero, Danilo Urrea and Sara Shaw

Editor: Katharine Ainger

This report, released in Lima during the UN climate talks, reveals how multinational corporations such as Anglo American undermine crucial climate policies and promote false solutions, which allow them to profit from the climate crisis.


Under the excessive influence of corporations, the UNFCCC is not only unable to deliver concrete measures for climate justice and serve peoples’ interests, it is paving the way for corporations, mainly big and historical polluters, to build new opportunities to profit from the climate crisis. In sum, the UNFCCC has been transformed from its intended use as a democratic forum into yet another space to create corporate-friendly policies and stall progress on action for climate justice. And the reality is that even before governments arrive at the UNFCCC talks they will have been subject to intense national level lobbying from corporations that will have influenced the positions they take internationally. Greenhouse gas emissions are now the highest in human history and climate change is having widespread impact on human life and natural systems. But when governments meet at the United Nations COP 20 (Conference of Parties) climate talks in Lima under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) they will be subject to intense lobbying by some of the biggest industrial polluters. The stakes could not be higher, as countries then head to the pivotal 2015 UNFCCC meeting in Paris, but the corporate capture of policy-making means there is an ongoing failure to address the root causes of climate change.

Instead of governments and international public institutions like the United Nations reigning in corporations that harm people and the environment they are, themselves, more and more controlled by those corporations. In this publication Friends of the Earth International (FoEI), Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), and the Transnational Institute (TNI) expose how corporations are undermining crucial climate policies, and promoting false solutions that will allow them to profit from the climate crisis, while expanding the extraction of dirty energy. This is exemplified through the case of the British-South African company Anglo American, which this report examines from its activities at the world’s biggest open-pit coal mine in Cerrejón, in La Guajira, Colombia, all the way up to its lobbying at the UNFCCC.

Read the report

Extract of the report – Chapter two, by Rachel Tansey:

Anglo American’s web of influenceBox 6

The previous chapter looks at how Anglo American and partners harm local environments and livelihoods through their direct operations in El Cerrejón, as well as hurting the climate through the continued extraction and use of coal. But the damaging impact of the British-South African mining titan goes much further. The minerals multinational has also spun a web of
influence around national and international climate policy that ensures its dirty coal business continues unabated.

From privileged access to governments and the UNFCCC climate talks, to furthering its interests through numerous trade associations and lobby groups, Anglo American has not just ensured genuine climate action is weakened, it has successfully promoted business-friendly false solutions to climate change, like carbon markets, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and further sectoral offsets from Reduction Emissions from Deforestation and forests Degradation (REDD) (see box 3: financialisation of nature on page 5 and box 6: false solutions on current page). Rather than cutting emissions at source by transforming our energy model, these measures actually profit Anglo American for doing the opposite: accelerating and expanding their dirty business model with a new ‘green’ image and new green finance.

43millionAnglo American has lobbied for the removal of subsidies to renewables, for the ETS to be the EU’s key climate policy, and for the “deployment of all conventional and unconventional  energy sources” such as shale gas. Anglo American received nearly three million free  allowances from the ETS between 2010-2011, worth around 43 million euros

Privileged access to governments and the UNFCCC

Anglo American has used its position as one of the world’s largest mining companies to gain privileged access at national and international level, particularly around the annual UN climate talks, or COPs.

Leadership role at South Africa’s COP17: The 2011 UNFCCC climate talks in Durban, South Africa (COP17) were a key moment in dismantling climate commitments and pushing false solutions. As well as effectively killing the existing climate agreement (the Kyoto Protocol) and delaying emissions reductions until 2020, Durban made carbon capture and storage technology eligible under the Clean Development Mechanism, established that the Green Climate Fund could be directly accessed by multinational corporations (rather than just countries), and paved the way for the spread of carbon trading.25 Anglo American was proudly at the heart of this corporate coup.26 But how and why was Anglo American so actively involved?

Its domestic strength in South Africa, which was then COP President, earned Anglo American a “COP17 leadership role”,27 with 17 delegates across different lobbying bodies.28 The company’s intimate relationship was once again on display when it co-hosted a cocktail function with the South African Government29 during which Anglo American’s Chief Executive said an “energy future without coal is not an option”.30

Anglo American is a member of several business groups, including the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), and South Africa’s National Business Initiative (NBI). At COP17, these business groups hosted “The Fifth Global Business Day,” an industry lobby event that focused on “why solutions to climate need to be driven by business”.31 Anglo American executives discussed how their industry was being unfairly labelled a major contributor to the climate crisis.32

Through NBI, Anglo American was also involved in organising seminars “for business to interact with the South African negotiators, international counterparts, [and] government”,33 as well as sponsoring another on REDD+ (see box 6: false solutions on page 10).

World Coal Association, COP19: Dubbed the Coal COP, COP19 not only had fossil fuel industry sponsorship,34 but the Polish government as COP President co-hosted the ‘International Coal and Climate Summit’ with the World Coal Association (WCA). UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres gave the keynote address alongside the Chief Executive of Anglo American Thermal Coal – and Chair of WCA’s Energy and Climate Committee – Godfrey Gomwe. Gomwe argued that cheap, reliable energy from coal is necessary for poverty eradication35 – a public relations strategy that ignores the fact that most people without electricity live too far from conventional grids or aren’t seen as profitable customers, with electricity feeding large industry instead.36 UNFCCC chief Figueres actually reinforced the idea that coal was necessary for poverty eradication in her speech.37 Arguing for a leading role for coal in tackling climate change, Gomwe highlighted “the deployment of high efficiency low emission technologies” ie coal plants running at 40% efficiency (rather than current average 33%), and called for development banks to finance developing countries’ access to this renamed but otherwise unchanged ‘clean coal’, ready for the future deployment of CCS.

Anglo American weaving a complex lobby web

Anglo American is a member of the following lobby groups, which also lobby for regressive positions:

EUROMINES: The European Association of Mining Industries, Metal Ores and Industrial Minerals lobbies at the EU level for “affordable” energy and industrial competitiveness,38 deployment of unconventional energy such as shale gas, and for the EU’s carbon market (see box 6: false solutions on page 10) to be the key climate policy.39 EUROMINES also undermined binding energy efficiency targets, and subsidies and targets for renewables.40 Both EUROMINES and Anglo American have lobbied the European Commission on EU plans to develop biodiversity offsetting (see box 3: financialisation of nature on page 5).42

International Council for Mining and Metals (ICMM): ICMM maintains that climate change-related funds should be used to help the mining sector, and to promote CCS (see box 6: false solutions on page 10).43 ICMM also supports biodiversity offset models (see box 3: financialisation of nature on page 5), including discussion of “offsets in legally protected areas.”44 ICMM’s Director of Environment and Climate Change, Ross Hamilton45 is participating at COP20.46

International Energy Agency Clean Coal Centre (IEACCC): The IEACCC, funded by industry sponsors, claims to provide expertise on “the clean and efficient use of coal… [and] clean coal technologies, in a balanced and objective way”. Anglo American is a sponsor, sits on its Executive Committee, and helps set its research agenda.47 IEACCC concludes that “coal…can play an important role in energy security”.48

UN Global Compact: The UN Global Compact claims to be the “world’s largest voluntary corporate citizenship initiative”.49 But its non-binding nature and the appalling track record of many of its members has fed criticism that it merely gives a cloak of legitimacy to participants. Its global ‘Caring for Climate Initiative’, endorsed by 390 companies including Anglo American,50 often hosts greenwashing events at COPs – with big plans for COP20 – and is a strong promoter of a global carbon market.51

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD): WBCSD is a corporate club claiming to work for “a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.”52 A pioneer of re-branding big business as part of the solution, WBCSD consistently opposes legally binding environmental and social standards for corporate activities. It advocates a global carbon market, voluntary sectoral agreements for industry, and CCS.

International Chamber of Commerce (ICC): The ICC enjoys privileged access to national governments and international bodies,53 and has been a key player in co-opting the UN into putting profit-driven corporations at the heart of climate change policies.54 The ICC is hosting an official side event at COP20.55

Figure 3

23 ETC Group, ‘IPCC and Geo-engineering’, 16 April 2014, see:
24 The COP19 Guide to Corporate Lobby, CEO, TNI, November 2013, see:
25 Friends of the Earth International Media Advisory, 3 December 2011, ‘Disastrous “DURBAN Package” Accelerates Onset Of Climate Catastrophe’, see:
26 Anglo American, The A Magazine, Issue No.10, April 2012, see:
27 Anglo American, Carbon Disclosure Project 2012 Investor Information Request, see:
28 WBSCD had a total of over 100 delegates, the ICC nearly 50, ICCM 30, and the WCA 4. UNFCCC, COP17 Provisional list of participants, Part 3 NGOs, 28 November 2011, see:
29 South Africa government online, Media invitation: COP17/CMP7 cocktail function, 04 Dec 2011, The cocktail was co-hosted with Anglo American, WBCSD, Durban ICC and NBI.
30 Anglo American, Cynthia Carroll, Chief Executive Speech 4 December 2011, see:
31 IISD, Fifth Global Business Day, 5 December 2011, Durban, South Africa, see:
32 WBCSD, Durban Global Business Day – Preliminary Agenda, 5 December 2011, see:
33 NBI, Seminar Series Leading up to COP 17, 29 August 2011, see:
34 CEO and TNI, ‘COP19 Guide to Corporate Lobbying’, November 2013, see:
35 Godfrey Comwe, Address to The International Coal And Climate Summit,18 November 2013.
36 Friends of the Earth, ‘Reclaiming Power: An energy model for people and the planet’, 2011, see:
37 See C. Figueres’ full speech at:
38 EUROMINES, ‘Euromines response to the public consultation on the 2030 Climate and Energy Package’, 8 July 2013, see:
39 ibid.
40 ibid.
42 For the year September 2013-September 2014. Meeting between European Commission DG Environment officials and EUROMINES, 13th February 2014, 14.30-15.30. Meeting between DG ENV official and representatives of Anglo American , 25 September 2013. Source: documents released to Rachel Tansey, under EU Access to Documents laws, RefGestDem No 2014/4134, 7 October 2014.
43 ICCM, ‘Options in recycling revenues generated through carbon pricing’, April 2013, see:
44 ICMM, IUCN, ‘Independent report on biodiversity offsets’, January 2013, see:
45 ICMM, ‘ICMM appoints Ross Hamilton as new Director of Environment and Climate Change’, 12 August 2013, see:
46 ICMM website, ‘Upcoming events: UNFCC COP 20’, see:
47 Anglo American response to Carbon Disclosure Project Investor Information Request for 2012, see:
48 IEACCC website, About, see:
49 UN Global Compact, ‘UN Secretary-General Opens Historic Leaders Summit on Corporate Citizenship’, 5 July 2007, see: and ‘Participants and Stakeholders: Anglo American’, see:
50 Caring for Climate list of signatories, see:
51 Caring for Climate Business Forum website, ‘A Global Call for Climate Action’, see:

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