At COP26, fossil fuel interests better represented than countries threatened by global warming

Imagine wine and spirits representatives in the halls of an Alcoholics Anonymous conference. While leaders and negotiators from around the world discuss at COP26 the conditions for the gradual abandonment of fossil fuels, the main cause of global warming through their greenhouse gas emissions, representatives of these same industries fight behind the scenes to defend their rights and interests. More than 500 lobbyists from the oil and coal sectors are present at the climate conference in Glasgow (Scotland, UK), the NGO revealed on Monday, November 8. Global witness (link in English), who peels the list of accredited persons (link in PDF) within the delegations.

With 503 representatives, the fossil fuel industries have more emissaries than the best-represented nations. According to the NGO, more than 100 oil companies and no less than 30 associations or organizations from the sector are present at the COP. In numbers, they crush the delegations of many of the countries most affected by the consequences of global warming, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (373), Bangladesh (296) or Haiti (46). They are also ahead of the largest delegations, such as Brazil (479) and Turkey (376).

Since the signing of the Paris Agreement, after COP21, in 2015, countries have committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. However, these lobbyists are working to “to defend an agenda incompatible with the Paris agreement, even to slow down its implementation”Greenpeace spokesperson Clément Sénéchal tells “The challenge for the COP is to use explicit language on the exit from fossil fuels”, he explains. However, according to him, the weakness of the commitments, which are already reflected in the first versions of the final text resulting from the negotiations, testifies to the work of undermining thisa plethora of high-level lobbyists, who come to influence decisions in the wrong direction, certainly with success. ”

Therefore, the International Association for Emissions Trading (IETA) has 103 delegates on site, three of whom are from the oil company BP. This association includes a large number of fossil fuel companies “, explained to BBC (link in English) Murray Worthy of Global Witness, accusing them of highlighting “false solutions [qui] avoid taking the real and simple measures that would solve the climate crisis, that is, stop extracting fossil energy ”.

Above all, these representatives included in the delegations and “who defend particular interests”, benefit from privileged access to discussions, where “Experts from civil society and NGOs, who defend the general interest, remain on the sidelines of the negotiations”Clément Sénéchal continues, echoing the request made in the gallery of the 51 members of the Citizen’s Climate Convention.

According to the Global Witness account, 27 countries (including Canada, Brazil and Russia) have representatives from the oil and coal sectors within their national delegation. Requested by franceinfo, a COP26 spokesperson recalled that“It is up to each country to choose these delegates and for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to issue all the accreditations before the COP.”

In the area of ​​the COP26 pavilion, Australia demonstrated a carbon capture and storage project carried out by one of the largest greenhouse gas emitting companies in the country. Withdrawn from the stand after having awakened the emotion of some of the participants, this showcase testifies to the more or less discreet presence of these industries in climate congresses.

Alex Hodgson

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