Transatlantic alliance of 130+ EU and US decision makers call to end fossil fuel influence at UN climate talks
In a letter addressed to the UN secretary general, the European Commission President and the President of the United States, 133 MEPs, senators and representatives express their “profound concern that current rules governing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) permit private sector polluters to exert undue influence on UNFCCC processes.”
The letter also calls for specific measures to end the influence of the fossil fuel industry, asking for “immediate steps to limit the influence of polluting industries, particularly major fossil fuel industry players whose business strategies lie at clear odds with the central goals of the Paris Agreement, at gatherings of the UNFCCC.”
At least 636 fossil fuel lobbyists registered to attend last year’s COP—an increase of more than 25% over the previous year. The United Arab Emirates have appointed Sultan Al Jaber, head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, as President-designate of COP-28.
The letter comes ahead of a preparatory meeting for COP 28, which will take place in Bonn between June 5-15 (officially known as SB58). Campaigners have been pushing for its inclusion on the agenda but it has so far been left off.
Signatories of the letter include Members of the European Parliament from the five political parties, including vice-presidents. From the US Congress it includes senators such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Martha Myers, campaigner with the Fossil Free Politics coalition which advocates for an end to fossil fuel industry influence in Europe said: “The fossil fuel industry is the single most powerful obstacle stopping us from tackling breakdown, and its influence needs to end at every level of decision-making from the UN climate talks to local governments. This unprecedented push to kick big polluters out of climate policy should be a catalyst to end the political power of the fossil fuel industry’s lobbyists everywhere.”
Sheldon Whitehouse, US Senator (D-RI) said “COPs offer the largest and most important venue to find international agreement on ways to solve the climate crisis. Companies participating should be required to file audited climate political footprint statements to ensure transparency at the world’s major forum for leading the planet to safety in the race against climate change.”
Manon Aubry, Member of the European Parliament for the Left Group, said "For billions of people, the outcome of COP28 and following international climate negotiations will make the difference between life and death, chaos and solidarity. Corporate greed and lobbyists' lies have led us into this climate crisis. We must prevent private commercial interests from interfering in politics and regain ownership of our future."
Michael Bloss, Member of the European Parliament for the European Greens, said “An oil boss as head of the global climate conference marks a new level of audacity by the fossil lobby. Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber must resign immediately so that global climate protection regains its credibility. To make progress on climate protection, we need to limit the power of the fossil lobby. Instead of letting the fox guard the henhouse, the fossil lobby must be expelled from the conference. Oil states and fossil industries have always prevented anything that could mean an end to coal, oil and gas, and put the brakes on global climate protection for destructive profits. The fossil industry must give way if there is to be any chance of survival for humanity and this planet.”
Mohammed Chahim, Member of the European Parliament for the Socialist & Democrats, said "At the end of the day, every sector needs to contribute to climate neutrality to keep the 1.5 goal alive. The question here is whether these lobbyists from the fossil industry, who have been well aware of their consequences for years, should be ... present at a climate conference, given that most comments from the industry are not much more than greenwashing and very very skeptical to say the least."
Notes to editor
** To see a full copy of the letter and signatories, see here
** The Fossil Free Politics campaign is a network of more than 200 organisations advocating for an end to fossil fuel influence over climate and energy policymaking at the European level.