Fossil of the Day

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Shell, Exxon Mobil, Petrobras, Chevron and BP Given First Ever “Corporate” Fossil

Award given for lifetime commitment to blocking progress on climate and environmental protection

Rio de Janeiro - In an unprecedented move, the Fossil of the Day award broke protocol today to award a special fossil to big oil and their friends. The award is a recognition of the back room, dirty tactics that the fossil fuel industry and lobby has used here in Rio and for years to block progress on climate change and sustainable development. 

The corporations were also singled out for being some of the biggest recipients of the narly $1 trillion in subsidies handed out each year to big polluters. The award comes on the eve of a corporate business event including a session entitled "Fossil Fuels and Sustainability" that features representatives of Petrobras, BP and Shell. The text of the Fossil Award read as follows:

Today's fossil award is an extra special one, a never before seen or heard of Fossil of the Day...a Fossil First here in Rio.

The recipients of this Fossil have for years stood in the shadows, and in the way of real progress on climate change and sustainable development. Around the globe they are the worlds largest climate criminals, responsible for spilling millions of barrels of oil in the natural world, and dumping billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the aptmosphere.

Let's get a (oil) drumroll please for today's Fossils! Those big bad polluters!

Shell! Exxon-Mobil! BP! Chevron! and a special Brazilian Rio Fossil for our sponsors here at Rio+20 Petrobras!  Honorable mention goes to all the oil barons, king coals and gas giants around the globe! Our top four recipients collectively made nearly $140 billion dollars in 2011, all while working against the adoption of strong, ambitious climate legislation in countries around the globe, digging deeper into dirty energy. All four are major players in the tar sands and part of a new rush to develop oil in the Arctic - despite their roles in major disasters like the Deepwater Horizon, the Kalamazoo river spill, the Exxon Valdez and the list goes on.

Oh yeah, and they're all part of that prestigious trillion dollar club, recipients of massive polluter handouts.

Petrobras gets a special spot for coming on as a sponsor of Rio+20 while trying to break the resistance of fishermen of Rio’s Bahia de Guanabara with violence. The fishermen have been struggling to defend their livelihoods against Petrobras’ oil spills.

The Fossil of the Day ceremony was also the target of a mock protest by "Billionaires for Subsidies", a group of youth drawing attention to the influence of big polluters here in Rio and on climate progress around the globe. The fossil fuel companies were targetted for attempting to hijack the agenda in Rio, but also for lobbying to weaken climate commitments for governments around the world. 


Brazil Takes 1st Place; Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, EU, Canada US, & More 2nd

It was a full day for fossils Sunday at the Rio+20 negotiations. Brazil earned the First Place Fossil for a frightening new draft text. Saudi Arabia and Venezuela took Second Place for trying to save fossil fuel subsidies. The European Union, United States, and other developed countries earned another Second Place Fossil for bringing empty pockets to plans in need of financing. The Fossils as presented read:

“Brazil earns the First place Fossil. Yesterday Brazil took over as host country of the negotiations for the Rio+20 summit and presented its new draft of the negotiating text. With great power comes great responsibility. The world is watching how Brazil performs in its task of steering negotiators towards agreement on ambitious, concrete outcomes. Outcomes that will get the world on the path to sustainable development and ensuring all members of this and future generations access to quality food, clean water and renewable energy, as well as a healthy, liveable planet, a stable climate and a vibrant prosperous economy. The outcome also need to find new sources of financing and ways to mobilize the technologies to achieve these goals.
Unfortunately the text yesterday shows no signs of movement in this direction. It appears that Brazil is missing the chance be a force for raising ambition and living up to the hopes and trust that the world has placed on its shoulders, and will be content with using its growing political clout and indisputable diplomatic capacities only to find clever compromises and get agreement on a watered-down document devoid of clear commitments and actions. Furthermore it seems that the Brazilian government are more focused on closing text, even though it is slashing the ambition, rather than ensuring the outcome we need. Of course Brazil can’t single-handedly turn this process around, and it needs bold and ambition proposals from other countries and a willingness from all countries to get this process on track to creating the world we really do want.”
“The United States, European Union, Canada, and other developed countries earned the Second Place Fossil. US, Canada, EU and other developed countries, turned up in Rio with not a Euro cent or Dime, and now that we see all references to finance and technology commitments deleted from the Rio negotiating text it’s clear that developed countries are intending to run away from the Rio principles signed 20 years
ago, especially Common But Differentiated Responsibility. Rich, industrialised countries need to step up and provide the predictable and adequate support that allows developing countries to pursue truly sustainable development.”
“Saudi Arabia and Venezuela also earn a Second Place Fossil. During closed door negotiations Saudi Arabia and Venezuela have consistently blocked progress on ending fossil fuel subsidies. Despite an honest effort by Brazil to bridge the divide, these two countries remain the biggest obstacle to stopping our governments handing taxpayers' money directly to the dirty energy industries. Why aren't these billions being spent on access to clean energy for the billions without? The oil industry' slippery tentacles are strangling sustainable development and driving us closer towards a climate catastrophe, with our governments in on the act. By refusing to end these dirty handouts, we give Saudi Arabia and Venezuela the second place fossil, hopefully we won’t see them on the podium again.”



G77 earn Fossil of the Day as they oppose language to foster civil society participation

Today's first place fossil goes to Algeria!

Algeria on behalf of the group of G77 was awarded the third ever Rio Fossil of the Day today. Moves to oppose language in relation to effective civil society engagement and participation in implementing sustainable development have earned them the top spot.        

Today’s Rio Fossil was chosen through a vote by representatives of youth networks and hundreds of global NGOs organized in the Climate Action Network CAN.                          

The Fossil presentation text reads as follows:

“Algeria is receiving the fossil on behalf on G77 for opposing language in relation to effective civil society engagement and participation to implement sustainable development. 20 years ago, Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration recognised that the best environmental decisions are made  with the involvement of the public. That includes civil society groupings such as NGOs, women, trade unions, youth and others. We agree that referring to stakeholders in the outcome document should be avoided as some private interest groups, such as big corporations, do more harm than good.

However, in many ways civil society groups are the best allies parties have at the international level, especially developing country parties, whom we often support by providing increased capacity and advocacy efforts. We have a huge range of expertise and experience that adds real value when we are able to participate in decision-making at the local, national and international levels. Our ability to participate also ensures the legitimacy of decision making and helps translates decisions into real world outcomes. This is the only way to genuinely achieve sustainable development. We know that only a very small number of G77 members are resisting language that would help us play our role more effectively. The rest of the G77 should not allow this minority rule."

The Rio Fossil Awards will be presented daily throughout the negotiations highlighting the country or countries who do the least to support progress (or the most to block it) on issues relevant to climate change, such as energy, forests, and the green economy. Fossil of the Day ceremonies take place every day at 18:15, in the corridor leading from the negotiating rooms in Pavillion 3 into the main  crossroads towards the courtyard in the center of RioCentro.




Canada Comes Out of Fossil Retirement to Take Home a Surprise Second Rio Fossil - Recognized for gutting the text in Rio and rolling back environmental regulations at home

Canada was awarded the second ever Rio Fossil of the Day today in a surprise move that brought them out of Fossil of the Day retirement with a real bang. The combined impact of their moves to delete and undermine many key pieces of the Rio texts, while pushing through a budget bill that guts environmental and climate policies at home, has earned them a top spot once again.

Today’s Rio Fossil was chosen through a vote by representatives of hundreds of global NGOs and youth based on Canada’s opposition to funding for a Green Economy, their obstruction of key initiatives to protect oceans and sustainable fisheries, their constant watering down of strong commitments on the phase out of Fossil Fuel Subsidies, and their request to remove the recognition of Common But Differentiated Responsibility in the Rio text.
The Fossil presentation text read as follows:
This evening’s recipient of the Rio Fossil may come as a surprise to some of you. That’s because at the UNFCCC negotiations in Durban last December, the international community gave Canada a lifetime achievement award, vowing never again to waste a fossil on a country that has made itself irrelevant when it comes to combating climate change.
But just when we think Canada has hit the bottom of the barrel, they always seem to find more bitumen – so to speak – moving from conventional forms of obstruction to dirtier, darker and more intensive forms. Yesterday Canadian negotiators continued weakening the language around fossil fuel subsidies along with oceans and fisheries, coming out in favour of continuing billions in handouts to big polluters and against protecting the high seas, the low seas, and any other seas. They also hit the delete button on green economy funding and stayed true to form calling for removal the principle of common but differentiated responsibility…sorry – what they consider to be “guilt payments” to the global south…Not content just being a perpetual thorn in the side of progress here in Rio, the Government surprised us all by flipping the proverbial bird to nature. They turned back the clock on decades of environmental regulations, protections, review processes, most things related to protecting the climate, and generally anything green and or nature-related by pushing through a 400 page budget bill that guts Canada’s environmental review and regulatory processes.
For coming out of retirement with a bigger bang than any of us could have imagined, CANADA this FOSSIL is truly for you…you have earned it!!
The Rio Fossil was presented at a mock award ceremony at the RioCentro space where Canada “cut out”
environmental protections. This Fossil of the Day is another in a long history of Fossil Awards for Canada, the all-time champion who has taken home more fossils at United Nations climate talks than any other nation.
“At home and here in Rio, Canada has really earned this Fossil award for undermining a just and sustainable future,” said Amara Possian, a young woman from Canada who accepted the award. “Canada had to go pretty far to get back on this list, and they’ve managed to do it by fighting against the bare minimum of commitments, like ending $1.4 billion in handouts to the fossil fuel industry.”
The Rio Fossil Awards will be presented daily throughout the negotiations highlighting the country or countries
who do the least to support progress (or the most to block it) on issues relevant to climate change, such as energy, forests, and the green economy.

International Youth and NGOs award USA first “Rio Fossil of the Day” at Earth Summit Award given for backpedaling on 1992 commitments.

At the opening of the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development the United States of America was awarded the inaugural Rio Fossil of the Day. The Rio Fossil Awards will be presented daily throughout the negotiations highlighting the country or countries who do the least to support progress (or the most to block it) on issues relevant to climate change, such as energy, forests, and the green economy.

Today’s award was given to the United States for the overall strength of their not having any real commitments. This fossil recognizes the United States' (once the considered the only remaining superpower) efforts to delete meaningful commitments from various parts of the negotiation text all through the day yesterday.

The Rio Fossil as presented read:

"This first recipient of the Rio Fossil has consistently refused to commit new funding to sustainable development initiatives in the Rio+20 process, despite handing out upwards of $521 billion to big polluters - more than enough to invest in a just and sustainable future at home and abroad.

The US has actually been deleting meaningful action across the board, such as disregarding the Rio Principle on Equity (Principle 3) - asking for its deletion from the entire text to be replaced by the term ‘inclusiveness’, rejecting the urgent need to work towards advancing sustainable consumption and production patterns , and blocking the launch of a High Seas Biodiversity Agreement to protect marine life in the high seas, which cover 64% of our oceans.

The first Rio Fossil goes to the United States of America!

The United States may have taken the first Fossil, but the field of candidates is opening up, and there are plenty of chances to get on, and off the Fossil podium. The U.S. has a real shot at not being a Fossil if they can become a champion on strengthening commitments and setting an ambitious timeline on ending fossil fuel subsidies in Rio.”

The presentation of the award took place at the RioCentro conference center at the Rio Fossil award ceremony. Organized by youth and NGO’s from across the globe the award was presented in a mock ceremony and accepted on the United States' behalf by Brendan Schoenman from the United States.

“As a young person representing the United States I regret-fully accept this award on behalf of my government" said Brendan. "Although I hope that I never have to stand up and accept this award again and that US steps up to be a champion here in Rio."


Saudi Arabia is Awarded the 1st Place Fossil of the Day Award and Poland Receives 2nd Place Fossil.


The First place Fossil of the Day goes to Saudi Arabia. The oil-rich Arab countries are in for a big test this year. They are all over the process. Not only is Qatar the Presidency of COP18, but also Saudi Arabia is chairing the LCA, and Algeria is heading G77+China. It is great to see the Arab region taking on big roles in the process, but as Spiderman says ‘with power, comes responsibility’. It is an important year for the Arab World, and failure in achieving a successful political outcome in COP18 would be a disgrace to the region. Therefore, one would expect that all Arab countries would be supportive of Qatar, not take extreme positions, not alienate Parties, and definitely not play obstructive roles in the process. Unfortunately, we still see Saudi Arabia trying its best to push its own short-term agenda forward, and getting a whole bunch of countries angry consequently blocking progress in different areas. What is upsetting is that this will not only reflect badly on their LCA chairmanship, but it will also send negative signals on the nature of the influence Saudi Arabia will have on their Qatari neighbors. CAN cautions Saudi Arabia, and advises it to take a progressive role. Countries are already calling COP18 the Saudi COP. So, Saudi Arabia, CAN’s message to you: “Stop undermining Qatar!”

The Second Place Fossil goes to Poland to Poland, for blocking the European Union to increase its pledge to 30% reductions by 2020, much less the 30% solely through domestic action or 40% overall that NGOs and some vulnerable countries would dearly love to see. The Polish government is taking 26 other countries hostage to increase their level of ambition, and thus driving the European emissions trading to collapse. The Polish position is also undermining the EU’s overall credibility in their call for real progress under the ADP workplan to increase near-term ambition until 2020.  Poland, notably, has also been instrumental in blocking the European Union to adopt a position on the issue of AAU carry-over.  Without Poland, the EU would have been able to move forward on AAUs ages ago.

USA Earns 1st Place Fossil of the Day and Australia and New Zealand get 2nd Place Fossils.


The 1st place Fossil goes to the US for refusing to even discuss its mitigation and finance commitments under the Bali Action Plan. In the Developed country mitigation spin-off group yesterday, the US stated its disagreement to even discuss such vital elements for developed country action in the pre-2020 period as comparability – which includes common accounting – addressing the ambition gap and compliance. Important as workshops and technical papers are, they do not build a transparent regime that enables countries to show that they are acting in good faith to reduce their emissions. The good news is that he US did not state disagreement to discussing a QELRO for itself, so we look forward to seeing the US’s domestic carbon budget to 2020!

In the LCA finance contact group yesterday, some developing countries asked for a mid term finance commitment from their developed country counterparts. Instead of giving reassurance and using the opportunity to build trust in this currently toxic atmosphere, the US asked those developing countries if they had thought of a mid-term mitigation plan themselves to “deserve” this mid-term climate finance. However, the US seems to have forgotten that climate finance should not be held hostage by the mitigation discussion. Climate finance is needed to address adaptation needs for the most vulnerable countries. Besides, the US itself was the leader in brokering the $100bn deal three years ago.

The 2nd place Fossil goes to Australia and New Zealand for not submitting a QELRO carbon budget into the Kyoto Protocol. These countries continue to vacillate on whether they will follow the shameful example of Russia and Japan (and let us not even mention Canada). Our time in Bonn has shown that the international community is growing very impatient as it continues to wait and see if Australia and New Zealand deserve its scorn or its applause.






Fossil of the Day Returns at the Bonn UN Climate Negotiations with Three 1st Place Fossils Going to: the USA, Canada and China.


First Place Fossils go to the USA, Canada and China.

The first 1st place Fossil goes to the USA, for its continuing attempts to block negotiations on sources of financing, and refusing to discuss how it will continue to scale up financing in 2013 and onwards, towards the agreed goal of $100b by 2020. We know that the USA faces some deep denial issues internally, as well as avoidance issues in the negotiations around issues like equity, capacity building and an international mechanism on loss and damage. Until the US is willing to have a frank and honest discussion leading to substantive decisions, it will be an impediment to this process.

An additional 1st place Fossil goes to Canada for – can you guess???? – reneging on their commitments to fight climate change by withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol.  While many of you enjoyed your first full night of sleep after Durban overtime, the Canadians had no such luck. Barely off the plane, Canada’s Environment Minister wasted no time in confirming the COP’s worst kept secret that Canada was officially pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol. Many delegates probably had already given up on Canada at that point, but those of us that live within that vast, beautiful, hockey-loving country have had to continue to bear witness to what can only be called the government of polluters’ puppets.  While Canada’s actions are clearly in a world of its own when it comes to bad behavior in the Kyoto Protocol, there are others that are behaving in fossil worthy manner.  Here, we’re looking at Japan and Russia for refusing to participate in the second commitment period and Australia and New Zealand for missing the critical May 1 deadline to submit their QELROS.  Australia and New Zealand are on notice that we expect these submissions by the end of Bonn – though the sooner the better as it is causing trouble in the KP.

And the final 1st place Fossil goes to China for holding in abeyance the work programme on scaling-up pre-2020 ambition under the ADP. We agree with China that the ADP must not allow developed countries to jump ship from the KP and LCA to a weaker regime, but Parties can't hold critical parts of the Durban package in abeyance, which amounts to punting them to the other side of the moon. We can't hold the fight against climate change in abeyance!


New Zealand Earns First Place Fossil, United States and Canada Share “Colossal Fossil”

Durban, South Africa –  At the final day of the United Nations climate negotiations for 2011, countries received their biggest shaming yet for blocking greater progress in the talks. With the final outcome of negotiations not yet decided, it was at least clear enough which nations had done their worst in the last day and the entire two weeks. New Zealand took the infamous 1st prize for its strongest statement yet against continuing Kyoto. But Canada earned yet another Colossal Fossil for scoring the most dirty points at these negotiations, though they earned isolation and a minute of silence more than another fossilized award. Instead, the United States of America took the Colossal Fossil, too, for coming in second place in overall Fossil points and showing serious lack of action for such a major polluter. The Fossils as presented read:

“New Zealand wins the 1st place Fossil. The New Zealand government got a Fossil this week for severely mixed messages about its Kyoto Protocol 2nd Commitment Period stance. This time, it made it clear, describing Kyoto as 'actually an insult to New Zealand'. The only insult is to the citizens of New Zealand and the rest of the world, who will have to suffer the costs of climate change.”

“Canada wins a Colossal Fossil by mathematical majority. The Canadian government has made headlines and earned criticism from the international community in Durban for refusing to sign onto a second Kyoto commitment period, calling critical climate financing 'guilt payments', and bullying least developed countries into leaving the Kyoto Protocol. And over the two week negotiation period, Canada has won a staggering total of 6 Fossil of the Day awards. Mathematically, they are the undisputed winner of the 2011 Colossal Fossil award.

But when environment minister Peter Kent announced Canada’s third fossil of COP 17 on the floor of the House of Commons, members of his Conservative government cheered and applauded. The minister brought that reckless arrogance with him to Durban, where he’s maintained a hard line and refused to budge on a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and fought hard to put polluters before people.

Canada remains the only country in the world to have weakened its emissions targets after returning from COP 15 in Copenhagen and the only country to have signed and ratified the Kyoto protocol and then say that it has no intention of meeting its targets. The Government killed the only major federal renewable energy program in the country while plowing over 1 billion dollars a year of subsidies into the oil sector.

The Government’s lack of ambition or action to combat climate change is no laughing matter. Climate change is one of the most serious issues that humanity has ever faced, and it is already affecting millions of people – including vulnerable communities in Canada.

(minute of silence)

While a colossal fossil might be a fitting reward for such egregious behaviour, we’d prefer to confer that title on a country whose actions are still having an effect on the negotiations taking place, and not a laggard who’s been pushed to the sidelines of this debate. Until Canada is prepared to become a real leader on climate change, it’s time to turn our backs on the government’s policies and move on with a coalition of the willing built from people, cities and provinces that understand the urgent need for action.”

“And so, the United States of America wins a Colossal Fossil for sheer (un)ambition. For a country that in 2009 claimed to come back to the negotiations full of hope and change, it has mostly just brought more of the same – no commitments, no Kyoto, plenty of rhetoric, and minimal money. Whether because of a conservative Congress or an administration that hid behind it when its President and negotiators could have done more, we can only 'hope' that the U.S.A. 'changes' its stance and doesn't spend the next 4 years earning Colossal Fossils like Canada spent the last 4. This is not the kind of international cooperation CAN had in mind.”


Busy Fossil Awards Target U.S., New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Russia; Africa Group Earns Ray

Durban, South Africa – It was the busiest Fossil ceremony yet at COP17. New Zealand took third for opposing the Kyoto Protocol. Japan, Canada, and Russia earned second for their own lack of KP commitment. And the United States came in first for failing their 2 degrees C agreement. Luckily, the Africa Group earned the first Ray of the Day in Durban for consistent, constructive progress. If only the negotiations were so productive. The Fossils as presented read:

“New Zealand takes 3rd place in today's Fossil of the Day for hardening its stance on the Kyoto Protocol. In the last 24 hours, New Zealand's previous conditional support of a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol appears to have become outright opposition. However, New Zealand has declined to answer questions or otherwise clarify its position on this issue, leading to ongoing uncertainty.”

"Japan, Canada, and Russia earn the 2nd place Fossil. We heard today and yesterday from all these ministers repeating their position on rejecting the 2nd commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol.

For what are they coming to Durban? Didn't they see people with I love KP T shirts? They are the ones who block progress on the AWG-KP discussion for a long time, and that makes the Durban agreement more difficult now. As one delegate said, they are not leaving Kyoto to make things better, but worse.

As a response to global climate change, and as big emitters, leaving Kyoto is totally irresponsible."

"The United States of America wins the 1st place Fossil. The COP is not even over, and the United States has managed to secure what ought to be the Fossil of the 21st Century. Why? Well, not only are they the largest emitter of greenhouse gas pollution in history, not only have they occupied more atmospheric space than any other country, not only have they got the most paltry emissions reduction pledge for 2020, not only did they renege on ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, but they are now reneging on their commitment to keeping warming below 2 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures.

In yesterday's press briefing, Todd Stern was asked to clarify reports that he had described the 2 degree goal as “aspirational.” His answer? That knowing ahead of time that we will overshoot the warming limit that the IPCC has identified as the point after which the globe and all of its people are thrust into out-of-control climate change did not amount to 'some kind of mandatory obligation to change what you’re doing, whether you are in the United States or Europe, China or wherever you might be…'

For these comments, which amount to a callous disregard for the future lives and livelihoods of people everywhere… for repeatedly stating at this meeting that no one should increase the ambition of their pledge… for their willingness to throw away the last opportunity we have for keeping the two degree goal within reach, the United States earns what ought to be the title Fossil of the 21st Century."

"The Africa Group earns a Ray of the Day. At this Durban COP/CMP the Africa Group has clearly made a big effort to be proactive and progressive. The Africa Group have put forward proposals that would reduce the loopholes that threaten to undermine mitigation pledges from developed countries. Africa Group have put forward proposals to improve the environmental integrity of accounting in land use and forestry (LULUCF) by limiting free forestry credits to Annex 1 parties and significantly reduce the ‘hot air’ (carried over AAUs). (of course extinguishing it altogether would be best!). Yesterday the Africa Group put forward a proposal under shared vision to establish a process to address equity, which if it is teamed with a commitment to agree a peak year of 2015 and a long term global goal to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 could help unlock negotiations here, and also encourage country specific longer term ambitious mitigation actions."