COP28: Record Number of Fossil-Fuel Lobbyists, Controversial ‘Climate Denial’ Statement by the Summit President
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Held at a time considered crucial for the future of the planet’s climate and humanity as well, COP 28 has faced criticisms. The recent is an analysis which revealed the presence of a record number of fossil fuel lobbyists. It has been estimated that around 2,500 such lobbyists have access to the climate summit.
This was revealed by the analysis conducted by the Kick Big Polluters Out (KBPO) and raises the question of whether COP 28 will be free from the influence of the fossil fuel industries of the world. In Dubai this time, the oil and gas company lobbyists were present as much as four times more than they were in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where COP 27 was held.
KBPO is a coalition of over 450 organisations across the world that call for ending the influence of fossil fuel companies in climate policy. After years of campaigns, the UN has made it a requirement to declare who they represent. This may be the reason that a clear picture of the fossil fuel lobbyists, who otherwise have joined in previous COPs without their identities revealed, has emerged.
Importantly, as KBPO outlined, the fossil fuel lobbyists (nearly 2500) have outnumbered the delegates from all the participating countries except Brazil, having 3081 delegates and Dubai itself having the number of delegates as 4409. These lobbyists represent oil and gas giants like Shell (London), British Petroleum (London), TotalEnergies (France), ExxonMobil (USA) etc. Notably, Brazil is expected to organise the COP 30 in 2025.
In addition to it, the fossil fuel lobbyists also outnumbered the official indigenous representatives (or the representatives of indigenous groups), which is only 316. This has been criticised by experts and campaigners saying that the profit of the oil and gas companies will be prioritised more than the frontline communities.
Coordinator of the campaign group Ibon Africa Carolie Muturi, in a comment to KBPO, was quoted as saying, “These findings tell us that the dynamics within these spaces remain fundamentally colonial. Cops have become an avenue for these corporations to greenwash their polluting businesses and foist dangerous distractions from real climate action.”
From across the world, the momentum for phasing out fossil fuels is growing, and COP 28 is expected to secure a commitment from the parties in this direction. But in reality, the opposite is happening—many of the biggest polluters are resisting it.
On it, Rachael Rose Jackson, a research director at Corporate Accountability, commented in Nina Lakhani’s article in the Guardian, “If Cop28 doesn’t deliver a fossil fuel phase-out, we know who to blame. We are angry, and we are over having to explain again and again why the fossil fuel industry should not be writing the climate rules.”
The data on the unprecedented presence of the fossil fuel lobbyists was compiled by Corporate Accountability, Global Witness and Corporate Europe Observatory. Their analysis came from the provisional list of around 84,000 participants at the UN climate summit.
The fossil fuel lobbyists received more passes than the combined delegates from the ten most climate-vulnerable nations in the world, which include Somalia, Chad, Ghana, Sudan, Tonga and Solomon Islands.
Hwei Mian Lim of Women and Gender Constituency commented on the overwhelming presence of the fossil fuel lobbyists, “If governments had required oil and gas groups to decarbonise from the outset in line with what science says is needed to limit climate change’s worse impacts, we would not be in our current state of all-out emergency. We are where we are because of years of denial, delay and false solutions from the very groups that are responsible for the problem.”
COP 28 President’s Controversial ‘Denial’ Remark
The president of COP 28, Sultan Al Jaber is the head of the national oil company of UAE, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). Recently, Jaber came to highlight with a remark which was read as ‘climate denial’ by the world community. He said that there is no science which indicates that fossil fuel phase-out is necessary to keep global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius. He was also quoted to have said that fossil fuel phase-out is not a way for sustainable development and indicated that this would take the world back into caves.
Scientists and experts from across the world reacted to this comment negatively. They argued that Al Jaber’s comment stands opposite to the core of the science of climate change, which suggests phasing out of fossil fuels to restrict global heating and also the position of the UN Secretary-General.
However, on Monday, Al Jaber tried to defend himself by saying he honours and believes in science. “I honestly think there is some confusion out there and misrepresentation. I am quite surprised with the constant and repeated attempts to undermine the work of the COP28 presidency,” Jaber said in a statement, continuing, “Science has been central to my own career progress, and yes, I respect the science in everything I do. “I have said over and over that the phase-down and the phase-out of fossil fuel is inevitable,” he added.
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