The UK Youth Climate Coalition has learnt, via a telegram obtained by Greenpeace, that in late 2017 the UK lobbied the Brazilian government in order to pander to the interests of fossil fuel companies Shell, BP and Premier Oil. We, working in collaboration with the Brazilian organisation Engajamundo, are appalled and concerned by this news. Together, we hope to raise awareness of the behind-the-scenes lobbying which is undermining climate goals and helping fossil fuel corporations to keep on polluting.

Greg Hands, the Minister of State for the Department for International Trade, traveled to Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in 2017, and met with Paulo Pedrosa, the Brazilian deputy minister for mines and energy. Here, Hands spoke on behalf of BP, Shell and Premier Oil, British-owned companies which had been concerned by the impact of environmental licensing and taxation on their activities. Since these interactions took place, Brazil proposed an offshore drilling tax relief plan, and awarded Shell six of the eight deepwater drilling blocks on offer at an auction.

Hands’ actions are in contrast to the apparent aims of the UK government relating to climate change. Claire Perry, Minister of the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy stated at the Bonn UNFCCC climate conference that ‘we are taking our commitments under the Paris Agreement very seriously, and following them up with concrete action’. This may be true in some regards, but lobbying other governments on behalf of oil and gas giants is certainly not an example of this ‘concrete action’ on the goals laid out within the Paris Agreement.

Greenpeace acquired the telegram from the Department for International Trade through freedom of information rules. However, the Department released another version of the telegram soon afterwards. This time the sensitive information had been removed.

As young concerned citizens, as voters who elect leaders to represent us, as environmental leaders ourselves, as leaders-to-be, and as people who will continue to live on this earth and in this country for many years, we believe that the UK Government must do much more to reduce and end the use of fossil fuels, both within the UK and overseas. It makes no sense to meet environmental targets within the UK, if we continue to fuel large-scale pollution, corporate control and injustice elsewhere. Yes, fossil fuels may create jobs, and they may, for the time being, be the main source of our energy. However, we have known for many years of the dramatic impacts of this dirty addiction (short- and long-term climate change, and negative impacts on the most vulnerable nations and societies). We have the expertise, technology and common sense to move away from this path. The UK must shoulder its responsibility to its citizens, to those in other countries, and to its global allies in the fight against climate change and environmental degradation.

UKYCC and Engajamundo have written a letter to Greg Hands, stating our concerns and calling for him to ‘acknowledge the harm done to people and environment by fossil fuel companies, to explain and apologise for [his] lobbying of Brazilian oil, and to pledge to never again support such business’. The full letter can be found here.

Together with Engajamundo, we say ‘Greg tire suas mãos do petróleo Brasileiro!’, or ‘Greg, take your hands off Brazilian oil!’  

Search and share with the hashtag #GregHandsOff 

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