NGO, Nonprofits Decry Fossil Fuel Lobbyists Granted Access to COP27
SHARM El-SHEIKH, Egypt — An analysis of attendees at the United Nations-sponsored COP27 climate talks shows that the number of fossil fuel industry lobbyists on hand has jumped 25% from those in attendance at last year’s talks in Glasgow, Scotland.
In a report released Thursday, NGO Global Witness, and its nonprofit partners Corporate Accountability and Corporate Europe Observatory, said they’ve identified at least 636 fossil fuel lobbyists sprinkled within the various national delegations.
At Glasgow, the figure was 503, which outnumbered the delegation of any single country.
This year the only country with a larger delegation is the United Arab Emirates, host of COP28 next year, which has 1,070 registered delegates, up from 176 last year.
As it happens, the UAE is also the contingent traveling with the largest number of lobbyists — 70 — while Russia has the second most, with 33.
The United States isn’t listed as having any lobbyists in its delegation, though several U.S. entities, including ExxonMobile, Chevron and Duke Energy as all represented on a detailed spreadsheet share with The Well News on Friday.
No figures were immediately available on how many U.S. lobbyists might be among the more than 30,000 people in total in attendance at the important climate event.
“The influence of fossil fuel lobbyists is greater than frontline countries and communities. Delegations from African countries and Indigenous communities are dwarfed by representatives of corporate interests, said the group Kick Big Polluters Out in a written statement when the report was released.
The group specifically campaigns against the influence of fossil fuel lobbyists at the climate negotiations.
Likewise, Nigerian climate campaigner Barilule Nbani, of the environmental group GreenFaith Nigeria, told Reuters on Friday that he also was upset by the presence of fossil fuel lobbyists, and believes they should “get out.”
“They are destroying the environment — and anything that destroys the environment destroys life, and we are dying in masses,” Nbani said.
But Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, the head of the African Petroleum Producers’ Organization, had a markedly different view.
“If you are not at the table, you’ll be on the menu,” Ibrahim told the BBC.
He conceded he was at COP27 to try and influence negotiators to support the development of oil and gas in Africa, but said when 600 million on the continent still lack electricity, an all-of-the-above approach to energy production is necessary to get power where needed.
As if developing countries wouldn’t be better off using funding from richer nations to spur renewable energy development, Ibrahim said African nations have been failed by those who made such promises in the past.
“And there is no guarantee that they wouldn’t fail us again,” he said.
Ibrahim also played down the significance of the lobbyists’ presence and their ability to get anything done.
“I guarantee you, even if we are to pay to come here, they will not allow us to come because they don’t want the other voice heard,” he said.
Nonetheless, it irks the report’s authors that there are more fossil fuel lobbyists registered for the climate talks than representatives of the 10 localities considered to be among the most impacted by climate change — Puerto Rico, Myanmar, Haiti, Philippines, Mozambique, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand and Nepal.
Researchers counted the number of individuals registered — either directly affiliated with fossil fuel corporations, including the likes of Shell, Chevron and BP — or attending as members of delegations that act on behalf of the fossil fuel industry.
They said their estimate is likely to be on the conservative side as their methodology relied on delegates self-identifying and disclosing their connections to fossil fuel interests.
On top of that, they chose not to include lobbyists from other industries that might not be directly in the fossil fuel industry, but as fossil fuel-adjacent, like agribusinesses and the finance industry.
“With time running out to avert climate disaster, major talks like COP27 absolutely must advance concrete action to stop the toxic practices of the fossil fuel industry that [are] causing more damage to the climate than any other industry,” a spokesperson for the researchers said in a written statement. “The extraordinary presence of this industry’s lobbyists at these talks is therefore a twisted joke at the expense of both [the] people and [the] planet.”
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