More than 500 lobbyists from some of the largest oil and gas companies have been given access to the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, new analysis has found.
Researchers counted the number of individuals either affiliated with fossil fuel corporations, such as Shell, Gazprom or Exxon, or attending as members of delegations acting for the fossil fuel industry.
The study, by Corporate Accountability, Corporate Europe Observatory, Glasgow Calls Out Polluters and Global Witness, found
- If the fossil fuel lobby were a country delegation at COP26 it would be the largest, with 503 delegates
- This would be double the size of the UK delegation and more than twenty individuals bigger than Brazil, the largest country delegation
- More than 100 fossil fuel companies are represented at COP26
- 30 fossil fuel trade associations and membership organisations are also present
- Fossil fuel lobbyists are about double the official number from the indigenous constituency at COP26
The researchers also found that the fossil fuel lobby was larger than the combined total of the eight delegations from countries worst affected by climate change in the last two decades: Puerto Rico, Myanmar, Haiti, Philippines, Mozambique, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Pakistan.
The analysis also showed that 27 official country delegations, including Canada, Kuwait, Russia and Brazil, registered fossil fuel lobbyists.
Yesterday the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 9UNFCCC), the COP26 organisers was accused of violating its charter because it had “forged an intimate partnership with corporations”.
COP26 has been criticised in the past week as the most excluding of the climate talks. People from countries in the climate front line have complained about lack of access because of issues such as travel restrictions and lack of Covid-19 vaccines.
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 centre-stage.”
Pascoe Sabido, researcher and campaigner for Corporate Europe Observatory
“COP26 is being sold as the place to raise ambition, but it’s crawling with fossil fuel lobbyists whose only ambition is to stay in business. The likes of Shell and BP are inside these talks despite openly admitting to upping their production of fossil gas. If we’re serious about raising ambition, then fossil fuel lobbyists should be shut out of the talks and out of our national capitals.”
“Instead, it is governments and communities from countries most affected by climate change that are finding themselves shut out, despite the UK claiming it has ensured an in-person and inclusive climate summit. Clearly that ambition only stretches as far as the fossil fuel industry. We need fossil free politics.”
Rachel Rose Jackson. director of climate research and policy at Corporate Accountability:
“The architects of the climate crisis cannot build a livable and just future when they’ve already burnt the house down. With Big Polluters in the building and so many of those on the frontlines left outside due to vaccine apartheid—COP26 is compromised. It is people on the front lines of this crisis, not polluters, who have the life raft we need at this moment.”
The groups behind the study called for a policy that excludes organisations with financial or vested interests in the production or burning of fossil fuels.
Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, said governments were free to accredit who they wished to their delegations, some of whom may be from fossil fuel companies. But she said lobbying by these companies would be against the Paris Agreement and added:
“Some of our parties are oil-producing countries, some of them even have state-owned oil companies. We need all that industry to change.”
One of the biggest delegation identified by the study was from the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA). This had 103 delegates, including three from BP, the study found. The researchers said IETA was backed by large oil companies that promote offsetting to allow continued oil and gas production.
IETA said it had members from “across the trading cycle” and it sought to “develop an emissions trading regime that results in real and verifiable greenhouse gas emission reductions”.
An IETA spokesperson told BBC News.
“We have law firms, we have project developers, the guys who are putting clean technology on the ground around the world, they’re also members of our association as well.
“We’re not coming to a shuddering halt today and tomorrow, and suddenly there’s going to be no emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels.
“There is a process to transition that’s under way, and carbon markets are the best way to make sure that transition takes place.”
IETA has tweeted details of events on carbon pricing and carbon markets at COP26 today.