Lobbyists are there to push the agenda of fossil expansion forward to continue to rake in profits, notes research
Oil giants Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron have lobbyists registered at the ongoing Bonn Climate Change Conference, organisations advocating against corporate lobbying have found.
Their presence could unduly influence the outcome of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) meeting of the Subsidiary Bodies (SB58) aimed at discussing climate finance, adaptation, operationalising the loss and damage fund and the global stocktake.
The data was collated by Corporate Europe Observatory, a non-profit research and advocacy group working to expose corporate lobbying, and Corporate Accountability Research, a non-profit group that analyses business ethics.
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After the Paris Agreement, the international treaty on climate change adopted in 2015, lobbyists from oil companies have always been in attendance at the UN climate talks.
The top five oil and gas majors in the European Union (EU) and the United States, namely Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron and TotalEnergies, had 403 lobbyists registered from the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP21) to COP27.
Of the 403 registered delegates, Shell alone had 177 delegates registered since the Paris Agreement (2016-2023).
The aforementioned organisations believe that lobbyists are there at Bonn to push the agenda of fossil fuel expansion forward to continue to rake in profits. This is primarily because five oil majors made a combined profit of $200 billion in 2022, double what they made the previous year in 2021, Energy Monitor found.
Exxon’s Michael Gerard Cousins, the company’s director of Greenhouse Gas and Climate Change, who also plays an integral role in Exxon’s oil and gas exploration department, entered the ongoing SB58 in incognito mode and was not listed as Exxon.
He was brought in by a trade association called the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association, as significant portions of lobbying are carried out through industry trade associations.
Similarly, the International Emissions Trading Association has 31 registered delegates at the current SB58 event, many of which have fossil fuel affiliations, including representatives of Shell and ConocoPhillips, a press release said.
A graph showing the increased representation of fossil fuel lobbyists, based on EU lobbying data, US lobbying data and UNFCCC participant list. Source: CEO / Corporate Accountability.
The expansion plans of the Big 5 would subsequently increase carbon emissions by 6,674 million tonnes by 2025, more than 2.5 times the EU’s emissions in 2021, the researchers said. Therefore, they said the Accountability Framework that protects climate policymaking from the pressure of the fossil fuel industry must be passed.
The International Emissions Trading Association and World Business Council for Sustainable Development are common hosts of fossil fuel lobbyists at climate negotiations. The former hosted more than 2,300 fossil fuel lobbyists at from COP21 to COP27, and the latter brought more than 1,300 fossil fuel lobbyists over the same period.
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Non-profits and other institutions also bring lobbyists to UN climate talks. Examples are the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which hosted Shell, BP, Chevron, Exxon and TotalEnergies, and the World Bank, which hosted Shell and Chevron. The University of Regina, whose carbon capture and storage (CCS) project Shell funds, was also a host.
The companies declared 1,330 lobbyists since the Paris Agreement (2016-2023) for the United States government. In the EU, the same companies spent almost €99 million on lobbying, declaring 375 lobbyists and securing more than 200 meetings with top commission officials since 2016, the statement said.
Shell was the biggest presence in Brussels, spending €32 million since 2016 and declaring 77 lobbyists. ExxonMobil was the biggest presence in Washington, spending almost $70 million with more than 360 lobbyists declared over the period, the statement added.
At COP27 alone, besides the five majors, lobbyists were in attendance from other fossil fuel entities, bringing the total inclusive number to more than 630, a 25 per cent increase from the year before at COP26.
The United Arab Emirates, which holds the Presidency this year, also had the biggest delegation at COP27, including 70 fossil fuel lobbyists. “COP27 looks like a fossil fuel industry trade show,” Rachel Rose Jackson, from Corporate Accountability, told BBC last year.
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