As the Kyoto Protocol runs out, world leaders plan to reconvene in Copenhagen, Denmark this December to discuss provisions for a new multinational treaty to reduce carbon emissions and prevent climate change. At the same time, fossil fuel industries and other heavy carbon emitters are preparing a global campaign to influence negotiations at the conference and protect their interests.

Reporters from the Center for Public Integrity in D.C. have joined a team of journalists from eight countries “deemed essential to a successful treaty”— Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, the United States, and European Union—to investigate this multinational lobbying campaign.

The report, “The Global Climate Change Lobby,” was released by CPI this week. It includes an interactive map showing current levels of greenhouse gas emissions by country. The CPI report coincided with the launch of CIR’s collaborative project with FRONTLINE/World to investigate the trillion-dollar carbon trading market: “Carbon Watch.”

From the CPI report:

Relying on more than 200 interviews, lobbying and campaign contribution records in a half-dozen countries, and on-the-ground reporting from Beijing to Brussels, our team pieced together the story of a far-reaching, multinational backlash by fossil fuel industries and other heavy carbon emitters aimed at slowing progress on control of greenhouse gas emissions. Employing thousands of lobbyists, millions in political contributions, and widespread fear tactics, entrenched interests worldwide are thwarting the steps that scientists say are needed to stave off a looming environmental calamity, the investigation found.

Among our findings:

• Both developed and developing countries are under heavy pressure by fossil fuel industries and other carbon-intensive businesses to slow progress on negotiations and weaken government commitments. The clash cannot simply be framed as one between richer and poorer nations.

• China’s moves to hasten development of renewable energy, Brazil’s pledges to curb Amazon deforestation, and other steps to address climate change in the developing world have prompted a strong pushback from domestic in-country interests determined to maintain the status quo.

• Instead of a broad frontal assault on the climate science that marked the pre-Kyoto battles, lobbyists seeking to dilute the Copenhagen treaty have changed strategy, acknowledging there is a problem while focusing on slowing or easing national commitments.

• The intensity of the lobbying can be seen most clearly in developed countries, where official registers reveal that thousands of industry representatives have attempted to influence climate legislation. In the United States, there are now about 2,810 climate lobbyists — five lobbyists for every member of Congress — a 400 percent jump from six years earlier. And in Australia, Canada, and the European Union, hundreds more lobbyists are at work attempting to block or water down strict limits on carbon emissions.

• Powerful corporations are fielding multinational efforts to influence the debate, such as Peabody Coal, the world’s largest coal company, in Australia and the United States; and oil giant Exxon Mobil in Canada, the European Union, and the United States. Although largely operating at a national level, opponents of a strong climate change treaty are employing similar fear tactics worldwide, including threats of massive blackouts and job losses.

• The voices of scores of business advocates for stronger climate change policy, including alternative energy companies and would-be players in the carbon market, can barely be heard above the clamor of the older, well-capitalized, and deeply entrenched industries that have been lobbying on climate change for more than 20 years.

• As a result of the forces arrayed against stricter emissions limits, no developed nation has made a firm pledge for the kind of emissions cut scientists say will be needed within the next decade to stave off catastrophic climate change.

Carrie Ching

Carrie Ching is an award-winning, independent multimedia journalist and producer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. For six years, she led digital storytelling projects at the Center for Investigative Reporting as senior multimedia producer. Her multimedia reports have been featured by NPR.org, The Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Grist, Time.com, Fast Company, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, KQED, PBS NewsHour, Salon.com, Mother Jones, Public Radio International, Poynter, Columbia Journalism Review and many other publications. Her specialty is crafting digital narratives and exploring ways to use video, audio, photography, animation and interactive graphics to push the boundaries of storytelling on the Web, tablets and mobile. Her work has been honored with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Best of the West, the Online News Association, Scripps Howard, The Gracies, and was part of the entry in a Pulitzer-finalist project. Prior to her time at CIR she was a magazine and book editor, video journalist, newspaper reporter and TV comedy scriptwriter. She was on the 2010 Eddie Adams Workshop faculty as a multimedia producer working with MediaStorm to teach digital storytelling techniques to photojournalists. She completed a master’s degree in journalism at UC Berkeley in 2005.