June 20, 2019

AFP: Thousands of big energy reps at UN climate talks: monitor

By Patrick Galey for Agence-France Presse (APF).

Lobby groups representing some of the world’s biggest polluters have sent thousands of delegates to negotiations aimed at limiting global warming since UN climate talks began, according to data obtained by AFP.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) brings together nations, environmental groups, scientists and policymakers to work on measures to stave off the worst social, economic and ecological threats posed by runaway temperatures.

Trade associations that represent oil and gas majors are entitled under the convention’s own rules to attend annual UNFCCC talks and inter-sessional meetings as observers.

They frequently host networking side events or presentations and have the same status and access permits at negotiations as environmental charities.

But there is currently no protection against potential conflicts of interest between nations which need emissions slashed rapidly in order to survive, and the biggest emitters whose business plans are still heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

A database compiled and analysed by the Climate Investigations Center (CIC) monitoring group lists every individual, observer and industry association to have attended UN climate talks since 1995.

Data given to AFP shows how trade groups representing energy giants have sent delegations sometimes larger than those of entire nations, and how firms responsible for a large share of historic greenhouse gas emissions are regularly in attendance.

It comes as delegates who are gathered in the German city of Bonn for mid-year climate talks on Wednesday begin debating whether the UNFCCC needs specific provisions to prevent industry representatives influencing government decisions.

Trade associations say it is important to include corporations in the climate debate, since energy and manufacturing firms will be tasked with implementing change in the global economy.

But opponents worry that having big business representatives around — and with little or no oversight for what they do there — can water down desperately needed cuts in polluting fuels.

Nnimmo Bassey, director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation, which campaigns for greater transparency at climate negotiations, said that industry groups’ attendance was “forcing the world away from discussing the urgent need to keep fossil fuels in the ground”.

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