Surprise: 503 Oil And Gas Lobbyists Are At The UN Climate Conference, Watchdog Finds
Hundreds of oil and gas lobbyists working for the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies are attending the United Nations’ climate change conference in Scotland as delegates work to rein in emissions and prevent the planet from dramatic warming, according to an analysis of registered guests.
The watchdog group Global Witness said this week that there are at least 503 lobbyists registered to attend COP26 in Glasgow who are affiliated with the industry. The group added that if the group was considered a unified delegation, it would be larger than any sent by an individual country.
Some of the lobbyists directly represent companies including Shell, BP and Russia’s Gazprom, while others are indirectly linked to the industry.
“The presence of hundreds of those being paid to push the toxic interests of polluting fossil fuel companies, will only increase the skepticism of climate activists who see these talks as more evidence of global leaders’ dithering and delaying,” Murray Worthy, Global Witness’s gas campaign leader, said in a statement. “It’s time for politicians to show they are serious about ending the influence of big polluters over political decision-making and commit to a future where expert and activist voices are given centerstage.”
About 40,000 people are in Glasgow for the summit, and each country has sent a bevy of delegates and some star power to the negotiations. The United States sent 165 people, including former President Barack Obama, and the U.K.’s 230 included broadcaster David Attenborough and Prince William.
Still, the oil and gas industry has been a regular feature at the climate summits, long arguing that their presence is necessary as the world works to transition away from fossil fuels, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has taken Glasgow by storm, said the news was troubling even if the industry had a smaller effect than usual.
“I don’t know about you,” she wrote on Twitter, “but I sure am not comfortable with having some of the world’s biggest villains influencing & dictating the fate of the world.”
“There are more delegates at COP26 associated with the fossil fuel industry than from any single country”
While key pledges have been made to address methane emissions, limit deforestation and dramatically increase investment in renewable sources, the world has ground to make up if it hopes to avert the worst effects of climate change. The United Nations released a preliminary analysis on Tuesday that found the planet is on track to warm by about 2.5 degrees Celsius even with current commitments, far beyond the 1.5 degrees scientists say is needed to stave off an increase in extreme weather and a massive hit to biodiversity.
The report found that unless current pledges to rein in emissions are increased soon, humanity will lose out on the ability to keep the warming level to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“We are not doing enough. We are not where we need to be,” Inger Andersen, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, told The Washington Post this week. “And we need to step up with much more action, much more urgency and much more ambition.”