Dear Greg Hands MP, Minister of State for the Department for International Trade,

After attending the UNFCCC COP23 climate conference in Bonn, we at the UK Youth Climate Coalition and Engajamundo were appalled to hear about your efforts to reduce taxation and environmental legislation in Brazil for oil giants such as BP and Shell. The leaked telegram about your efforts to lobby the Brazilian government on behalf of oil companies shows that you can’t keep your hands away from the dirty oil business.

Your actions directly and shamelessly contradict words spoken by your cabinet member Claire Perry, the Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, about the UK’s efforts to address climate change. In her speech at the UNFCCC COP23 UN climate talks in Bonn, she stated that “it’s never been more important to accelerate our momentum”, and emphasised that “we are taking our commitments under the Paris Agreement very seriously, and following them up with concrete action”. All of this means nothing if you support the interests of oil giants abroad.

You are an elected representative for the people of Chelsea and Fulham, and their concerns. As an MP you also carry great responsibility towards the people of the UK. You were not elected in order to be a mouthpiece for BP and Shell. No matter what the UK’s current position is, you should NOT be lobbying other governments on behalf of oil companies. Climate change is a global issue, and allowing for oil companies to pump out even more oil at even lower costs will only worsen the impact of climate change for all of us, everywhere. Furthermore, such pandering to big polluters serves to reinforce the colonially-anchored corporate takeover and environmental degradation already being faced by developing countries such as Brazil.

What happened to the “brilliant example of effective global cooperation” – how the UK Prime Minister described the Paris Agreement? The relationship of solidarity between Engajamundo and UKYCC, Brazilian and UK civil society groups working for environmental justice, should be a role model for relationships between states. We must stand together, play to our collective strengths, support clean energy, and not let others carry out dirty work which will ultimately harm us all and poison the good intentions laid out in the Paris Agreement.

How on Earth can UK action on climate change be taken seriously when the UK government is propping up the very companies that are the most to blame for climate chaos?

All of us at UKYCC and Engajamundo call on you, as Minister for International Trade, to support renewable energy rather than fossil fuels and private interests. We call on you, Greg Hands, to acknowledge the harm done to people and the environment by fossil fuel companies, to explain and apologise for your lobbying of Brazilian oil, and to pledge to never again support such business. 

Sincerely, and with resolve,

UK Youth Climate Coalition