There are almost 4 times more lobbyists at this COP than last year’s.
At least 2,456 fossil fuel lobbyists are estimated to have been granted access to COP28, according to an analysis from advocacy groups released today.
The Kick Big Polluters Out (KBPO) coalition looked at a provisional list of participants at the UN climate conference and says it has carried out the “most in-depth study into the fossil fuel industry’s presence at any talks to date”.
It says its estimate may be conservative as it only counted those who openly declared their connection to fossil fuels.
The coalition of more than 450 groups supporting action on climate change says that fossil lobbyists outnumber almost every country delegation – only Brazil which brought 3081 people and host country UAE with 4409 have more.
But they massively outnumber attendees from some of the most vulnerable countries and communities.
Fossil fuel lobbyists received more passes to COP28 than the 10 most climate-vulnerable countries combined, KBPO says. And more than seven times more lobbyists were granted access than official Indigenous representatives.
It’s also big jump from previous COPs too, with an estimated 636 lobbyists in Egypt last year and 503 in Glasgow the year before.
Where are the fossil fuel lobbyists coming from?
Digging deeper into the data, KBPO says that a vast number of lobbyists were granted access to COP28 as part of a trade association. Nine out of the ten biggest groups came from the Global North.
The coalition says that the largest was the Geneva-based International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) which brought 116 people in total including representatives from Shell, TotalEnergies and Norway’s Equinor.
“These findings tell us that the dynamics within these spaces remain fundamentally colonial. It comes as no surprise that the majority of the corporations influencing these talks are from the Global North,” says Caroline Muturi from the campaign group IBON Africa.
“This hinders the meaningful participation of African communities and the rest of the Global South in shaping climate policies that will primarily affect them.”
KBPO analysis also claims that France brought representatives from TotalEnergies and EDF as part of its delegation, Italy brought a team of ENI representatives and the EU brought employees from BP, ENI and ExxonMobil.
“2023 was a year like no other. Record temperatures, record levels of emissions, and now we see a record attendance from Big Polluters at UN climate talks,” says Muhammed Lamin Saidykhan, head of building power at Climate Action Network International.
For the first time ever, people attending the UN climate conference this year were required to disclose who they represent. KBPO says it has revealed many lobbyists who would likely have attended previous COPs incognito.
The coalition is calling on the UN climate body and governments to continue on the road towards a robust accountability framework which addresses the problem at its route – much like with the tobacco industry at WHO tobacco treaty talks.