published : 2023-11-08

Fossil Fuel Interests' Murky Presence at Climate Talks Revealed

UAE to Host This Year's COP Talks

A photo of a group of diplomats and delegates discussing climate change at the United Nations climate talks in Egypt, captured with a Nikon D850.

Hundreds of people connected to the fossil fuel industry attended last year's United Nations climate talks in Egypt, eclipsing the number of participants from most national delegations, according to an AP analysis.

While these attendees claimed to be there to address climate change, their affiliations and livelihoods were intertwined with the fossil fuel industry.

This year's official climate talks, known as Conference of Parties or COP, will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates, a major oil-producing country.

Renowned organizations like BP, Shell, and Saudi Aramco were among the attendees last year, highlighting the significant presence of fossil fuel companies at these summits.

Environmental activists claim that the influence of these industries hampers progress in phasing out coal, oil, and natural gas.

An image of a protest led by environmental activists, including Greta Thunberg, demanding action on climate change in London. Photo taken with a Canon EOS R5.

The opaque nature of negotiations and the prominence of fossil fuel giants in the trades pavilions make it challenging to quantify their influence.

The upcoming summit in Dubai, COP28, will see the CEO of the United Arab Emirates' national oil company as its president, raising concerns about the potential bias in negotiations.

Experts argue that the fossil fuel industry's involvement in the process begins even before the talks, influencing national positions and decision-making.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change aims for more transparency in the badging process to ensure attendees disclose affiliations and relationships with delegations.

Historically, the oil industry has influenced key decisions, such as adopting consensus rule instead of majority rule, making it harder to push through proposals to phase out fossil fuels.

A close-up photo of a globe with fossil fuel industry symbols superimposed, representing the influence of these companies at the COP talks. Taken with a Sony Alpha A7R IV.

However, some believe that the industry's participation in the talks could lead to quicker action on emissions reduction.

Utility companies with connections to fossil fuels, including AES Corporation, are also present at the climate summits where discussions on transitioning to clean energy take place.

While some argue for the importance of carbon capture and storage technologies, activists contend that all utilities are ultimately connected to fossil fuels, questioning their role in the negotiations.

Despite the challenges and criticisms, the annual COP talks remain pivotal in addressing the climate crisis and finding global solutions.

Critics call for reforms and increased accountability to ensure that the voices of those affected by climate change are heard and prioritized.