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Rejecting Oil Baron Canete as Climate Commissioner Should Be Common Sense

08/10/2014 17:12 BST | Updated 08/12/2014 10:59 GMT

Tonight at the European Parliament there will be a vote on whether Miguel Arias Canete, nicknamed "Senor Petrolhead" by the Sunday Times, will be accepted as the new EU commissioner for Climate and Energy. To cut a long story short, Canete has long embedded family ties with the oil industry so if common sense were to prevail, he would not be appointed.

Bowing to public pressure Canete was forced to sell his shares in two oil companies and has claimed he is still the right man for the job. However, while writing over 571,000 people have signed a petition on Avaaz and serious conflicts of interest remain.

He is not only the former chairman of the two oil companies, but his son and brother-in-law still hold powerful positions in both. It is also widely known that as Spanish environment minister he gave the go ahead for controversial oil explorations in the pristine waters off the Canary Islands. As minister in Spain he also had a very poor track record on shale gas and on the import of tar sands oil from Canada.

This history alone should automatically exclude him from this post but it gets worse.

At the very last minute before his confirmation hearing, an updated version of his declaration of financial interests to the European Parliament was published. It now includes his position as president of Partido Popular's election committee - a job that earned him between €1000 and €5000 per month. According to a spokesperson he "probably forgot" to include the information.

In 2004 he offered his services to the US Government to lobby MEP's in support of GMO's and in 1996 he campaigned for bull breeding subsidies in the European

Parliament, while his wife conveniently owned a bull-breeding business.

Then there was the implied sexist comment after a debate against a female candidate on Spanish television when he claimed he didn't perform very well in the debate because he was afraid of his "intellectual superiority" coming across.

When the Greens/EFA bloc of which I'm a member recently wrote to the new European Commission President Jean Cleade Juncker with a long list of reasons why we're opposing Canete we received a very unsatisfactory response. His one short paragraph said that he had spoken with Canete and that "all his activities are fully in line with applicable legislation". This simply isn't good enough.

The Greens in Europe have long been arguing that we need to begin the process of phasing out fossil fuels in order to meet existing climate change emissions reduction targets. There is just no possible way that an 'oil baron' with past and present links to the fossil fuel industry could ever be the right person for this to happen.

I'm urging all MEP's to come together to stop this ridiculous charade. Not only is Europe's response to climate change at stake but so is the integrity of the entire EU as the Canete affair is making a mockery of European politics.