Climate justice activists outside the venue at COP28 with a banner saying: climate decolonization. Photo by (CC BY-NC 4.0) Mídia NINJA

Unmasking COP28: big polluters tighten grip as climate disasters break records


Dear readers,

As the curtains close on COP28 we reveal what unfolded in Dubai. 

The agreement to “transition away” from fossil fuels was historic: the first time fossil fuels were explicitly included in a UN climate change text. But a look beneath the top-line takeaway reveals a “litany of loopholes” that were exactly what the oil and gas industry ordered.

In a year when both global temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions shattered records,how did we get here? CEO’s research shows that more than 7,200 appearances by fossil fuel lobbyists have dogged the last 20 years of the climate talks — significantly outnumbering delegates from the 10 most climate-vulnerable nations combined. 

One trade organisation in particular, the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA – founded by big polluters and whose members include behemoths such as Exxon, Chevron, and BP) has held at least 2769 passes to attend the climate talks since 2003, according to historic analysis conducted by the Kick Big Polluters Out coalition (of which CEO is part).

Watch all our videos from COP28 here!

🌍 Fossil fuel's shadow play at COP28

This year over 2,456 fossil fuel lobbyists infiltrated COP28, an incredible fourfold increase from last year. Their presence surpassed not only the delegates of climate-vulnerable nations but was also seven times the number of official indigenous representatives. No wonder there’s a growing call from global south countries, public officials, UN constituencies, and wider civil society to eject polluters from talks.

The European Union remains complicit in derailing real climate solutions and pushing for false fixes. The EU and its Member States flooded COP28 with over 130 fossil fuel lobbyists, led by France and Belgium with 26 lobbyists each. The chief executives of TotalEnergies and Eni were among the culprits, overshadowing the urgent voices of climate-ravaged communities.

In addition, EU Climate Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra's 11-year stint at McKinsey – a consultancy with ties to fossil fuel interests – raised serious doubts about his suitability to lead at the COP

There has been an ongoing lack of transparency about which clients the EU Climate Commissioner worked for while at McKinsey, despite repeated calls from MEPs, but 10 major fossil fuel companies known to have been clients of McKinsey & Company have sent at least 416 representatives to the UNFCCC climate talks over the past two decades.

Meanwhile the push for hydrogen at COP28, fueled by the European Union and the United Arab Emirates, is being used as a distraction tactic to produce yet more fossil fuel-based energy, diverting attention from the urgent need to halt new coal, oil, and gas projects. COP28's agenda revealed ambitions to double annual global hydrogen production – from 95 to 180 million tonnes – by 2030. But 99% of the hydrogen produced in 2022 was derived from fossil fuels, with a carbon footprint of over 900 million tonnes.

COP28 showed the fight to end Big Polluter interference in the climate talks is more relevant and needed than ever. 

Next June we will be at the UN “inter-sessional” climate talks in Bonn where the topic of conflicts of interest will be on the agenda. A broad range of civil social groups have proposed an Accountability Framework to hold Big Polluters to account, while countries representing almost 70% of the world’s population have requested these conflicts of interest be addressed. In June 2023 we won greater transparency but now we need accountability, so we’ll need your support more than ever if we want to stand up to the powerful vested interests trying to write the rules. 

In solidarity,

The CEO Comms Team

- Marcella, Joana, and Kat

Newsletter topic