Hundreds of fossil fuel lobbyists flooding COP26 climate talks
More lobbyists for big polluters than any national delegation
8th November, London/ Glasgow - At least 503 fossil fuel lobbyists, affiliated with some of the world's biggest polluting oil and gas giants, have been granted access to COP26, flooding the Glasgow conference with corporate influence.
Data analysis of the UN’s provisional list of named attendees by Corporate Accountability, Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), Glasgow Calls Out Polluters and Global Witness, reveals the scale at which corporate actors with a stake in the continued burning of fossil fuels have been enjoying access to these critical talks. 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 finds:
- 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 country’s 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
This news comes as groups around the world, many from countries that bear the brunt of climate impacts, have criticised unequal access to COP26, citing barriers to participation, amidst vaccine apartheid, costly travel restrictions and a lack of safeguarding guarantees.
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 liveable 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 presence of lobbyists at COP does not end with the fossil fuel industry. Other polluting industries deeply implicated in the climate crisis, such as finance, agribusiness, and transportation are also present, although they are generally not included in this analysis.
These new findings build on calls in recent years 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.
Corporate Accountability, CEO, Glasgow Calls Out Polluters and Global Witness recommend a policy that clearly excludes organisations that have financial or vested interests in the production or burning of fossil fuels.
- Hans van Scharen, firstname.lastname@example.org +32 484 72 97 76
- Pascoe Sabido, email@example.com +44 7969 665 189
- Lena Greenberg, firstname.lastname@example.org +1 646 620 5344
- Dominic Kavakeb, email@example.com +44 7545 965 302
- This analysis classified delegates based on their self-declared affiliations in the UNFCCC’s provisional list of participants (accessed 2nd November 2021) matched against pre-researched lists of fossil fuel companies, trade associations and membership bodies. A future more in-depth analysis using a broader range of sources may result in modifications to these figures. The provisional participants list gives information only on registered named delegates and is not a final list of those who actually attended. Some delegations have other participants who are not named but included in UNFCCC figures elsewhere.
- Names were extracted automatically using a computer script from the provisional list which is supplied in PDF format. Issues with the underlying PDF and the script may result in a small number of errors.
- For the purpose of this analysis a fossil fuel lobbyist is defined as an individual who can be reasonably assumed to have the objective of influencing the formulation or implementation of policy or legislation in the interests of a fossil fuel company and/or its shareholders. We assume that anyone present at COP is attempting in some way to influence the policy debate around climate change. If either of the following is true of a delegate, they are considered a fossil fuel lobbyist:
- They are part of the delegation of a trade association, membership group or international governmental organisation representing fossil fuel interests
- They list an affiliation with a fossil fuel company, trade association, membership group or international governmental organisation representing fossil fuel interests.
- Further information on the methodology for this analysis is available on request,
- References to the countries most affected by climate change are from the Climate Risk Index 2021 published by German Watch https://germanwatch.org/en/19777
Global Witness is an investigative NGO, campaigning on abuses of power that prevent meaningful action on the climate emergency and shut down civic space.
Corporate Accountability stops transnational corporations from devastating democracy, trampling human rights, and destroying our planet.
CEO is a research and campaign group working to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy making.
Glasgow Calls Out Polluters is a campaign group based in Glasgow seeking to kick big polluters out of the city, especially as it hosts the next round of UN climate talks.