The United Nations global climate conferences – such as COP27, currently underway in Sharm el Sheikh – are a unique opportunity for leaders from all over the world to meet and talk. Aided by experts, engineers, climate scientists, and researchers who, under the aegis of the UN, can spend two weeks trying to secure concrete agreements to overcome dependence on coal, oil, gas, and combat climate change.
636 fossil fuel lobbyists at COP27, 100 more than last year
Thus, countries send large delegations to these conferences each year, often made up of hundreds of people. But, as had already happened at COP26 in Glasgow, the largest group was not there to represent a country: rather, it was made up of fossil fuel lobbyists. The data, from a report by three non-governmental organisations – Global Witness Together, Corporate Accountability, and Corporate Europe Observatory – showed that oil, coal, and gas companies sent 636 representatives to Egypt to lobby for their cause. One hundred more than last year.
For reference, no single nation sent such a high number of delegates to COP27 (with the exception of the United Arab Emirates, set to host COP28 and thus present with a 1000-strong contingent, compared to some 100 in Glasgow). Brazil comes in second with 574 delegates, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo with 459, Kenya with 386, and Canada with 377. Indigenous populations, one of the groups worst affected by the climate crisis, only have 293 representatives at the conference. Meanwhile, the delegates for the ten most vulnerable countries in the face of climate change (such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, or Haiti), put together, are still fewer than the fossil fuel lobbyists.
The 10 countries most threatened by climate change have fewer delegates at COP27 than the fossil fuel lobby.
29 governments have included lobbyists in their official delegations
These figures clearly show how deeply committed the fossil fuel sector is to slowing down the green transition in any way it can. And, considering the severity of the climate crisis, which threatens the safety of entire generations of people, the three NGOs decry the presence of these forces as unacceptable. “Tobacco lobbyists wouldn’t be welcome at health conferences, arms dealers can’t promote their trade at peace conventions,” they stated.
To obtain these numbers, the non-governmental organisations examined the list of the approximately 33,000 people taking part in COP27, published by the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), which organises the conferences. The striking fact is that many of the lobbyists are not solely present as delegates in the name of fossil fuel companies: in fact, they are included in the lists of national representatives, with 29 governments incorporating them within their official delegations. This ensures the lobbyists’ access to the heart of the negotiations.