There were accusations that last year’s COP26 climate conference was flooded with lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry – and this year it’s even worse
Over 630 fossil fuel lobbyists have flooded the ongoing COP27 climate talks, an increase of over 25 percent from COP26 last year, according to a new report by Global Witness.
During a COP summit, negotiations occur between delegates from each country in front of observers that include representatives from NGOs, academia, climate justice groups, Indigenous peoples organizations, corporate interests, and so on. While only states can speak during the plenaries, observers can monitor the talks and make certain interventions. Their main aim is to guide the negotiations and lift voices that might otherwise be ignored.
At COP27, the biggest delegation is the fossil fuel industry, which has brought more people to the climate talks than any single national delegation aside from the United Arab Emirates.
According to the new report, there are also more fossil fuel lobbyists registered than representatives of the ten countries most impacted by climate change, including Puerto Rico, Myanmar, Haiti, Philippines, Mozambique, The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, and Nepal.
Considering one of the prime causes of climate change is greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of gas and oil, many groups are furious that the fossil fuel industry is being given such an influential platform.
“Tobacco lobbyists wouldn’t be welcome at health conferences, arms dealers can’t promote their trade at peace conventions. Those perpetuating the world's fossil fuel addiction should not be allowed through the doors of a climate conference,” a spokesperson for Global South activists said in a statement.
“This comes at a time when people all around the world are suffering from financial strains caused by high energy prices and millions more from the disastrous impacts of the climate crisis. Rather than being the start of the real climate action needed, COP27 looks set to be a festival of fossil fuels and their polluting friends, buoyed by recent bumper profits,” they continued.
The COP27 climate summit kicked off in the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh on November 6, and has attracted a huge amount of flack from environmental groups and activists. One of the main accusations is that the summit is little more than a parade of greenwashing and that it’s full of empty premises.
Speaking in London in the weeks before COP27, environmental activist Greta Thunberg suggested she was pessimistic about the upcoming climate summit, saying it’s an excuse for "people in power” to exercise “greenwashing, lying, and cheating."
Criticism has also been mounting against COP27 because one of the main sponsors is Coca-Cola, the world’s worst corporate plastic polluter.
Given these issues, there’s been a lot of pessimism floating around this year’s COP. However, many authorities and experts are still holding out hope that some solutions, no matter how small, will come out of this year’s wranglings.