The COP28 venue in Dubai, U.A.E. Eden Flaherty/GLF

At COP28, fossil fuel lobbyists abound

Industry reps outnumber the 10 most climate-vulnerable nations combined

From 3–10 December, the GLF team is in Dubai reporting from COP28. Follow us here for live updates, live-streamed interviews and daily wrap-ups.

At least 2,456 fossil fuel lobbyists have been granted access to the COP28 summit in Dubai – almost four times more than ever before, according to a new analysis from the Kick Big Polluters Out (KBPO) coalition.

This comes at a time when the phaseout of fossil fuels is high on the global policy agenda, yet the industry has played a disproportionate role in climate negotiations. COP28 has been mired in controversy since the announcement of the U.A.E., a major oil exporter, as host, and oil executive Sultan Al Jaber as president.

These concerns seemed to come to a head this week with Sultan Al Jaber saying that there is “no science” behind the claim that a phaseout of fossil fuels is needed to halt global heating and such a phaseout would not be possible “unless you want to take the world back into caves.”

In response, Al Jaber called a press conference in which he claimed that his comments had been “misinterpreted” and defended his belief in climate science.

According to the new KBPO analysis, fossil fuel lobbyists at COP28 have outnumbered delegates from any country delegation, with the exception of Brazil and the host nation, the U.A.E.

Worryingly, this means that fossil fuel lobbyists have received more passes to COP28 than the ten most climate-vulnerable countries combined, highlighting the outsize influence of the industry compared to those suffering the effects of the climate crisis.

Similarly, there are more than seven times as many fossil fuel lobbyists at the talks than official Indigenous representatives. Furthermore, most of those lobbyists have been admitted to COP28 as part of a trade association, and nine out of the ten biggest of these groups come from the Global North.

Anti-fossil fuel protester
An anti-fossil fuel protester at COP28. Eden Flaherty/GLF

“These findings tell us that the dynamics within these spaces remain fundamentally colonial,” says Caroline Muturi of IBON Africa. “It comes as no surprise that the majority of the corporations influencing these talks are from the Global North.”

“In years past, COPs have become an avenue for many companies to greenwash their polluting businesses and foist dangerous distractions from real climate action. This hinders the meaningful participation of African communities and the rest of the Global South in shaping climate policies that will primarily affect them.”

The attendees, from trade organizations and country delegations, include representatives from Shell, TotalEnergies, Equinor, EDF, ENI, BP and ExxonMobil.

This revelation is in part thanks to a new requirement this year for participants to disclose who they represent at COP, meaning that many fossil fuel representatives had likely fallen under the radar at previous COPs.

It further supports growing calls for the UN’s climate negotiations to establish clear conflict of interest policies and accountability measures.

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climate changeCOP28fossil fuels

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