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Fossil Fuel Lobby the largest delegation at UN climate talks COP26


File photo from COP21

So at the UN climate Change conference in Glasgow you might think it is swamped by all these activists calling for increased climate action. But within the corridors of the UNFCCC, mixing with Party delegations, are over 500 fossil fuel executives and lobbyists.

Yes, that’s right, over 500.

Much higher than any one party delegation.

Dwarfing the UNFCCC’s official indigenous constituency by around two to one.

We know the Australian pavillion wasn’t featuring indigenous knowledge for savannah burning or fire management to help control the more intense mega-fires Australia will be experiencing from now on due in part to Australia’s coal and gas, but instead had Gas company Santos spruiking investment in the Moomba project with Carbon Capture and Storage as a costly solution. 

But its not only Australia, even the Euopean pavillion had fossil fuel greenwashing according to this report on ‘clean hydrogen’.

Corporate Accountability, Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), Glasgow Calls Out Polluters and Global Witness conducted a data analysis on publicly available list of UNFCCC delegates. Researchers counted the number of individuals either directly affiliated with fossil fuel corporations, including the likes of Shell, Gazprom and BP or attending as members of delegations that act on behalf of the fossil fuel industry.

The analysis found:

  • If the fossil fuel lobby were a country delegation at COP it would be the largest with 503 delegates – two dozen more than the largest country delegation.
  • Over 100 fossil fuel companies are represented at COP with 30 trade associations and membership organisations also present
  • Fossil fuel lobbyists dwarf the UNFCCC’s official indigenous constituency by around two to one.
  • The fossil fuel lobby at COP is larger than the combined total of the eight delegations from the countries worst affected by climate change in the last two decades – Puerto Rico, Myanmar, Haiti, Philippines, Mozambique, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Pakistan.
  • 27 official country delegations registered fossil fuel lobbyists, including Canada, Russia and Brazil
So while some countries, especially in the Pacific, struggled to pull together a delegation to travel to Glasgow in the middle of the pandemic, Fossil Fuel lobbyists had no such impediment usually coming from developed countries and priviledged backgrounds.
Photo courtesy Glasgow Calls Out Polluters (GCOP) @Ggow_COP
Murray Worthy, Gas Campaign Leader at Global Witness, said:
“With the world quickly running out of time to avert climate disaster, this COP absolutely must be a success. The case for meaningful global action must not be diverted by a festival of polluters and their mouthpieces, who have no interest in seeing the changes we need to protect people and the planet.”
“The presence of hundreds of those being paid to push the toxic interests of polluting fossil fuel companies, will only increase the scepticism of climate activists who see these talks as more evidence of global leaders’ dithering and delaying. The scale of the challenge ahead means there is no time for us to be diverted by greenwashing or meaningless corporate promises not matched by delivery. It’s time for politicians to show they are serious about ending the influence of big polluters over political decision-making and commit to a future where expert and activist voices are given centrestage.”

Several organisations including Corporate Accountability researched and tracked before the COP some of the largest greenhouse gas polluters and how they are using ‘net-zero’ to greenwash their companies. They produced the report  Still a Big Con: How Big Polluters are using “net zero” to block meaningful action at COP26.

On the road to COP26, corporations are using “net zero” to block effective climate policy and greenwash their image while maintaining business-as-usual. This fact file details the “net zero” conning and COP26 greenwashing of six major corporate players, but they’re not alone.

In June 2021, more than 70 climate justice groups around the world launched a report, “The Big Con”. This report built on previous reports and analysis of “net zero” and revealed how Big Polluters across various economic sectors are advancing a “net zero” agenda to delay climate action, deceive the public, and deny the need for real, urgent, and meaningful action. This fact file builds on “The Big Con” by providing more detail on the “net zero” agendas of six major corporate players. These corporate actors include COP26 sponsors, Big Oil and Gas majors, and key influencers in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as well as in other “net zero” related initiatives such as the Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets (TSVCM) and the Race to Zero. 

The companies/organisations profiled included BP, Microsoft, Drax, IETA, Black Rock and Shell. 

Of course there are lobbyists from other sectors present too.  Lobbyists from finance, agribusiness, and transportation are also present, none of whom are included in this analysis.

There have been repeated calls to protect the integrity of the UN’s climate negotiations by establishing clear conflict of interest policies. 

Over recent years countries collectively representing almost 70% of the world’s population requested these conflicts of interest be addressed.

Local campaign group, Glasgow Calls Out Polluters formed to kick big polluters out of the city of Glasgow and the COP. They produced an Open Letter to the UK Government: Kick Polluters Out of COP26, which was signed by 243 local and global organisations

It is time the UNFCCC secretariat addressed this conflict of interest issue.

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