MP Pulls Out of Climate Summit Over Fossil Fuel Sponsorship

Alex Sobel refused to attend a summit sponsored by Equinor.

by Simon Childs

9 May 2024

A North Sea oil platform. REUTERS/Andy Buchanan/pool
A North Sea oil platform. Andy Buchanan/Reuters

An MP has pulled out of a climate change summit because it was sponsored by a petrol company.

Alex Sobel MP wrote on X/Twitter: “I have decided to withdraw from the Politico energy and climate summit next week, due to the involvement of Equinor. It was unclear that they were sponsors and I would not have accepted the invitation had their sponsorship been known.”

The summit will take place on 16 May and is hosted by Politico, the news and politics website. The promotional blurb for the event says that it will “unpack how the UK navigates the challenging path towards net zero”.

“Bringing together high-level policymakers, industry leaders, and pioneers of the green revolution, the summit aims to unveil a strategic blueprint that will guide the UK towards 2030 and beyond.”

Philip Dunne MP, chair of the environmental audit committee is listed as a speaker and there will be a screening of a pre-recorded interview with energy secretary Claire Coutinho. The day of panel discussions will also feature a “networking and cocktail reception”.

Sobel, Labour MP for Leeds North West, is the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on net zero.

Equinor is a Norwegian company which part-owns the Rosebank oil-field, the development of which has faced widespread criticism as it could derail the UK’s climate targets.

The cash-strapped media industry has been easy prey for fossil fuel companies trying to greenwash their images. Last year, a report by climate website DeSmog found that “media outlets have ventured into video, audio, and event offerings for corporate sponsors as well, and the fossil fuel industry has invested heavily in all three”.

Politico has taken sponsorship from fossil fuel industry players such as Chevron, the American Petroleum Institute, BP, Equinox, Enbridge and ExxonMobil, the report said.

In 2022, Novara Media reported that an event hosted by the New Statesman at the Labour party conference faced protests as it was sponsored by Drax, owner of a wood-burning power plant which pollutes poor, Black communities in the US deep south.

Simon Childs is a commissioning editor and reporter for Novara Media.

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