COP26 Fossil Fuels

Hundreds of fossil fuel lobbyists flooding COP26 climate talks

A Global Witness press release

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 countries 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 centrestage.”

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 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.

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