Over 500 fossil fuel lobbyists attend COP26 despite feeling ‘uncomfortable’

More than 500 fossil fuel lobbyists attended COP26 over the past two weeks, making them the largest delegation in attendance, a analysis published by the human rights organization Global Witness has found.

Based on data provided by the UN Provisional List of Named Attendees and compiled by Corporate Accountability, Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), Glasgow Calls Out Polluters and Global Witness, at least 503 fossil fuel lobbyists, affiliated with some of the petroleum and most harmful oil in the world. Gas giants have attended the conference in Glasgow, exerting immense corporate pressure and influence on politicians and diplomats.

The 503 lobbyists have been found to be associated directly or indirectly with more than 100 different fossil fuel companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, Russia-owned Gazprom, and the British oil and gas company BP.

The Global Witness report found that the fossil fuel lobby has more representatives at COP26 than the combined total of eight delegations from the countries most affected by climate change in the last 20 years: Puerto Rico, Myanmar, Haiti, the Philippines, Mozambique, Bahamas, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

However, it is not just the fuel companies that choose to send representatives to the conference. Official delegations from 27 countries included fossil fuel lobbyists, including those from Canada, Russia and Brazil.

Protesters hold placards as they take part in a protest, as the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) takes place, in London, Britain, on November 6, 2021. (Credit: REUTERS / HENRY NICHOLLS)

Australia faced criticism early in the conference after its government staged a demonstration by oil and gas giant Santos in front of its pavilion, effectively placing them in the limelight. This came shortly after Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to join 90 other countries in backing the official launch of a global commitment to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030.

“Look at Australia’s position: it has a prominent gas company apparently at the insistence of the energy minister, who believes that our energy policy should have to do with burning gas,” former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the guardian in criticism of Morrison and the country’s delegation.

“We have to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions, methane and CO2, in particular. We cannot continue to pretend that this is a problem that we can take into the future. We are living with the reality of global warming now. “

The fossil fuel industry is overwhelmingly responsible for damaging the environment, as burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, warming the atmosphere and raising global temperatures.

Lobbyists have attended COP26 despite comments leading up to the conference suggesting they would do otherwise. According to the Washington Post, Shell announced that it would not be attending, and the company’s chief executive, Ben van Beurden, said that “they told him we were not welcome, so we will not be there.” Despite this, six people still attended, although no executive-level representatives were sent.

The news that hundreds of fossil fuel lobbyists are attending COP26, while many groups from poorer countries feeling the harshest effects of climate change have been banned from access due to things like travel restrictions and lack of access vaccines, has drawn criticism from many, including the British. Member of Parliament Nadia Whittome, who asked if people “would allow arms dealers to hold peace talks,” in a video shared on social media.

“I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t feel comfortable with some of the world’s greatest villains influencing and dictating the fate of the world,” tweeted Greta Thunberg, the 18-year-old Swedish environmental activist. During his time at COP26, Thunberg met with world leaders within the conference and marched with climate activists abroad.

“The presence of hundreds of people being paid to further the toxic interests of polluting fossil fuel companies will only heighten skepticism from climate activists who see these talks as further proof of the leaders’ hesitation and delay. worldwide, “said Murray Worthy of TheGas Campaign Leader of Global Witness in response to the reported data.

“The scale of the challenge ahead of us means that there is no time for us to be diverted by greenwashing or nonsensical corporate promises that are not kept. It is time for politicians to show that they are serious about ending the influence of major polluters in political decision-making and committing to a future focused on the voices of experts and activists. “

“COP26 is sold as the place to increase ambition, but it is plagued by fossil fuel lobbyists whose only ambition is to stay in business. Companies like Shell and BP are in these conversations despite openly admitting that they have increased their fossil gas production, “added Pascoe Sabido, researcher and activist at the Corporate Europe Observatory.

“If we are serious about increasing ambition, then fossil fuel lobbyists should be excluded from the talks and from our national capitals.”


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