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What happened in Paris, should not stay in Paris

The week in corruption, 18 December 2020

Extinction Rebellion protest in Brussels, June 2020

Photo: Alexandros Michailidis on Shutterstock

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Last Saturday’s Climate Ambition Summit – held on the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement – offered a reality check on our collective efforts to keep tabs on the climate crisis.

It is not for us to say whether old and new climate-related commitments are ambitious enough to cap the planet’s temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. But we know this: our governments and international institutions are still failing to recognise corruption as a threat to climate action.

From undue influence of the fossil fuel industry to misspending in climate finance projects, corruption has been undermining the economic and social transformation needed to tackle the climate crisis.

Fraud, political interference and the undue influence of oil and gas companies weakens institutions and governance processes put in place to mitigate climate change. If we don’t fight corruption, we will never reach the Paris Agreement’s target of keeping the planet's temperature from rising about 1.5°C.

Paris Agreement climate targets are being missed because of corruption

Many governments and institutions are making green recovery from COVID-19 a part of their financing and investment plans.

Take the EU, for example. The bloc is allocating approximately €1 trillion over the next ten years to make the planet’s second-largest economy climate-neutral by 2050. The plan is to invest in an infrastructure that is resilient to the devastating consequences of the climate crisis but also further reduces the EU’s carbon footprint on the environment.

But construction projects are notoriously vulnerable to corruption. Add to this the technical complexities of climate and green projects and what we get is a very high-risk environment.

The good news is that civic oversight mechanisms such as Integrity Pacts can be a gamechanger in safeguarding public funds intended for green recovery.

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In 11 EU countries, together with the European Commission and local civil society groups, we have been piloting ‘Integrity Pacts’ – a collaborative approach to public procurement. Watch this video to find out which countries are covered in the pilot!

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By opening up contracting processes to public scrutiny, Integrity Pacts have already helped boost integrity in climate-relevant projects in Greece, Hungary and Slovenia.

workers setting up solar pannels

The EU’s green funds will be spent on measures to foster clean energy and protect the continent’s biodiversity, but also on a major ‘renovation wave’ envisaged for the next decade. Integrity Pacts can protect these green investments; successful projects in Greece, Hungary and Slovenia show how.

Go clean to go green

Integrity Pacts can also help safeguard the green investments that are about to be unleashed, to the benefit of both the people and the planet. That is why we’re asking EU leaders to consider independent, real-time monitoring mechanisms for major public works projects going forward.

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