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The Greenwashing of COP26: Fossil Fuel Lobbyists Make Up Biggest Delegation at U.N. Climate Summit

StoryNovember 08, 2021
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The Glasgow U.N. climate summit is inundated with fossil fuel lobbyists, according to a recent report published by Global Witness that found “if the fossil fuel lobby were a country delegation at COP, it would be the largest with 503 delegates — two dozen more than the largest country delegation.” We speak with Louis Wilson, senior adviser at Global Witness, and Andrea Ixchíu, a Maya K’iche’ leader, journalist and human rights defender based in Guatemala, about the vast presence of the fossil fuel industry at COP26 and the subsequent greenwashing taking place. “We don’t allow tobacco lobbyists into health conferences, so it begs the question why fossil fuel lobbyists are being allowed into the most important climate conference in a generation,” says Wilson.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Louis Wilson, you’re a senior adviser with Global Witness, which just put out an analysis of the hundreds of fossil fuel lobbyists flooding COP26 climate talks. You found, quote, “If the fossil fuel lobby were a country delegation at COP it would be the largest with 503 delegates — two dozen more than the largest country delegation.” Your colleague — I want to go to this clip — Dominic Kavakeb with Global Witness made this video as he documented the greenwashing events at COP26 that promote fossil fuels under the guise of renewable energy.

DOMINIC KAVAKEB: I’m here at COP26, and I’m standing outside the European Union’s pavilion area. It’s their official area where they host all of their side events. And this week they’ve got a number of events under the banner “energy transition,” which sounds fantastic, until you realize they have handed the mic over to a whole bunch of fossil fuel companies and their lobbyists to organize some of these events. This includes an event on hydrogen hosted by the lobby group Hydrogen Europe, whose members include the likes of Shell, Total, Equinor. And they’ve been pushing the European Commission to allow hydrogen, produced using dirty fossil electricity, the label of renewable. You’ve also got a whole load of other events run by gas companies like GRTgaz in France, Italy’s Snam, all with the aim of promoting their work and promoting the gas industry.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Louis Wilson, can you lay out the findings from the Global Witness analysis of fossil fuel lobbyists flooding the COP26 climate talks that your colleague is describing?

LOUIS WILSON: Absolutely. We released data today showing that, as you note, the largest delegation at COP26, billed as the last best chance to avert climate disaster, the largest delegation here is the fossil fuel lobby. And we analyzed publicly available data from the UNFCCC, and we found that 503 delegates are here representing either fossil fuel companies — over a hundred fossil fuel companies are represented here — or trade associations who are lobbying for fossil fuels. And that delegation is actually larger than the combined delegations of the eight worst affected countries by the climate crisis, including countries like the Philippines. We don’t allow tobacco lobbyists into health conferences, so it begs the question why fossil fuel lobbyists are being allowed into the most important climate conference in a generation.

AMY GOODMAN: So, we only have 15 seconds, but, Andrea, I want to give you the last word. What then gives you hope?

ANDREA IXCHÍU: I think that the future is a territory that we must defend. I said that the living alternatives, that the living solutions to the climate crisis already exist in Indigenous communities, that needs to be respected. I am also calling to the responsibility of the people around the world to stop consuming and exterminating Indigenous territories and Indigenous lands. We need to create solutions that are respectful with the life, with the planet, with ourselves, to think about a future where we do not need fossil fuels, but other green and renewable energies —

AMY GOODMAN: We have to leave it there, Andrea.

ANDREA IXCHÍU: — that are colonialism in Indigenous communities —

AMY GOODMAN: Andrea Ixchíu and Louis Wilson, thank you so much.

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