An analysis reveals that a minimum of 2,456 representatives specializing in fossil fuels have been granted access to the Cop28 climate negotiations.
A record number of lobbyists for fossil fuels are granted entry to COP28 climate talks. The Kick Big Polluters Out (KBPO) coalition has calculated a record-breaking figure that further casts doubt on the influence of the fossil fuel industry over the current United Nations summit, which is being presided over by the president of the national energy company of the United Arab Emirates.
The magnitude of industry-affiliated lobbyists in Dubai is unparalleled, approaching four times the quantity recorded for Cop27 in Sharm el-Sheikh – an event that broke all previous records.
Country delegations are outnumbered by lobbyists seeking to advance the interests of oil and gas corporations such as Shell, Total, and ExxonMobil, except Brazil (3,081), which is slated to host Cop30 in 2025, and the host nation (4,409 attendees).
Additionally, lobbyists for fossil fuels outnumber official Indigenous representatives (316) by a ratio of seven to one; this is further evidence, according to activists, that the oil and gas industry prioritizes profits over a sustainable planet and frontline communities.
Caroline Muturi, coordinator at the advocacy organization Ibon Africa, remarked, “These results indicate that the dynamics within these areas continue to be fundamentally colonial.” These corporations have begun to use law enforcement as a conduit to greenwash their polluting enterprises and impose perilous diversions from substantive climate action.
The disclosures occur amidst yet another disastrous year for the climate, marked by amplified extreme weather phenomena that have affected all regions of the globe, including the Amazon, Libya, and Arizona, where heat-related fatalities have increased dramatically, Libya, and Libya.
Scientists assert that such catastrophic heat, drought, and cyclones would have been nearly unimaginable in the absence of the warming caused by the combustion of fossil fuels, which must be phased out to prevent a complete climate collapse.
Growing support has been observed for a commitment to phase out fossil fuels at Cop28, particularly among the most vulnerable nations; however, many of the most polluting nations have yet to acquiesce.
Some studies estimate that the annual irreparable loss and damage in developing nations exceeds $400 billion, which is expected to rise; therefore, time is of the essence.
Rachel Rose Jackson, director of research at Corporate Accountability, stated, “We know who to hold accountable if Cop28 fails to implement a phase-out of fossil fuels. We are irate and sick of repeatedly having to defend the position that the fossil fuel industry should not have in drafting climate regulations.
KBPO is a coalition of over 450 international organizations that demand an end to the influence of fossil fuel corporations on climate policy. The United Nations acquiesced to years of pressure for greater transparency this year and mandated that applicants identify their lobbying groups. This may account for a portion of the increase in oil and gas lobbyists, as some may have attended previous Cops incognito.
Corporate Accountability, Global Witness, and Corporate Europe Observatory compiled the data on lobbyists from the United Nations’ provisional inventory of approximately 84,000 participants at Cop28. It is the most comprehensive study to date on the presence of the fossil fuel industry at any negotiations. It discovered:
The number of passes granted to advocates for fossil fuels exceeded the sum of all delegates (1,609) from the ten countries with the most severe climate vulnerabilities (Suomia, Chad, Tonga, Solomon Islands, and Somalia combined).
Access was granted to many fossil fuel lobbyists through a trade association, with nine of the ten most giant lobbyists hailing from the global north. The International Emissions Trading Association, headquartered in Geneva, was represented by 116 individuals, including executives from Equinor, Shell, and TotalEnergies of Norway.
The notable increase in industry representatives’ presence is unsurprising in light of recent disclosures that the hosting nation intended to exploit climate negotiations with other nations to advance deals for domestic oil and gas firms.
Sultan Al Jaber, the president of the Cop, was overheard stating that “no science” supports the notion that fossil fuels must be phased out to limit global warming to 1.5C (2.7F) above preindustrial levels.