COP26: Fossil Fuel Companies Get Inside Climate Conference

Organizers said they wouldn’t be welcome, but they found a side entrance, as Adam Ramsay reports.

U.K. Prime Minster Boris Johnson speaking at the COP26 in Glasgow on Nov. 2. (Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street)

By Adam Ramsay

Representatives of major oil companies including BP will be speaking at COP26, despite reassurances from organizers that they wouldn’t be welcome, a program from inside the venue reveals.

Last month, it was revealed that oil companies including BP were being excluded from official roles at COP26, with organizers casting doubt on the firms’ claimed ambitions to eliminate carbon emissions.

At the time, the exclusion was seen as a victory for environmental campaigners, who have long called for major polluters to be excluded from U.N. climate conferences.

However, a program of events obtained by openDemocracy reveals that representatives of Big Oil have been allowed into the conference under the umbrella of a trade association that has a stall at the heart of COP26.

“These companies are the greatest perpetrators of the climate crisis, and none of them have committed to rapidly phase out their oil, gas and coal extraction in line with the 1.5°C target. But BP and Chevron still get a platform and the industry still gets access to influential decision-makers behind the scenes,” Jess Worth, a Culture Unstained co-director, told openDemocracy.

“While so many vital voices from frontline and Indigenous communities around the world have been excluded from the summit, this clearly demonstrates the injustice baked into the heart of the process,” she added.

International Emissions Trading Association

The events are organized by the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), which lists oil company Chevron and mining firm Rio Tinto among its partners.

Sign saying “No More Blah, Blah, Blah” at Oct. 1 student march in Milan ahead of COP26 climate gathering in Glasgow. (Mænsard Vokser, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Speakers hosted by the IETA include Bernard Looney, the chief executive of oil firm BP, who will take part in a ‘high level dialogue on business, human rights and the just transition’ along with Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and former U.N. commissioner for human rights.

Last month, MPs criticized BP after openDemocracy revealed the oil company had paid a firm founded by an ex-MI6 officer to snoop on climate activists.

Norwegian oil company Equinor is also listed as a partner, while speakers include those from Malaysian oil company Petronas and Delta Air Lines, another major polluter.

Another member of IETA, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), is an umbrella body for energy companies in the U.S. Over the past decade, the EEI has been accused of holding back climate legislation in the U.S., including campaigning against distributed solar power, according to research by the investigative outlet Desmog.

Although the EEI officially acknowledges climate change as “one of the biggest energy and environmental policy challenges this country has ever faced,” in 2017, its then chair Tom Fanning denied the science of climate change in an interview with CNBC.

“The so-called business hub, the route by which BP, Chevron, Equinor, Rio Tinto and many other mega polluters have snuck into COP26, is really just a front for dodgy emission trading and offsetting schemes,” Mary Church, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said.

“Market-based mechanisms like those promoted under the IETA’s COP26 program are a dangerous distraction from the real solutions to the climate crisis.”

A BP spokesperson told openDemocracy that “We’re not official participants, but there are a number of side events,” at which it confirmed senior figures from the company would be speaking.

Responding to criticism of the company’s approach to climate change, he said: “We’re very clear about what our net zero targets are.” He added that these include “targets we have set for 2025 and 2030: we’ve set out a very clear set of ambitions, aims and targets, and that’s what we’re focused on delivering”.

The Edison Electric Institute, ITEA and Chevron did not respond to openDemocracy’s request for comment.

Adam Ramsay is openDemocracy’s main site editor. You can follow him at @adamramsay. Adam is a member of the Scottish Green Party, sits on the board of Voices for Scotland and advisory committees for the Economic Change Unit and the journal Soundings.

This article is from OpenDemocracy.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.




7 comments for “COP26: Fossil Fuel Companies Get Inside Climate Conference

  1. November 6, 2021 at 23:31

    It`s a wonder INEOS weren`t invited. They the worst Emitter in Scotland. Sir Jim Ratcliffe is pumping his Plastic Poop into the Oceans.

  2. bobLich
    November 6, 2021 at 18:41

    Unfettered capitalism prioritizes maximizing profit. The people, who amass obscene levels of wealth through profit maximization, become the people who have no empathy in regards to the suffering inflicted from profit maximization.

    These are the people, who will use their wealth/power to always obstruct anything that will reduce the human suffering from global warming, if it interferes with profit maximization. It seems something happens to the minds/attitude of people who become obscenely rich.

    The problem is unfettered capitalism, or maybe just plain old capitalism, will never allow stopping global warming, if it interferes with profit. That’s my two cents.

  3. Henry Smith
    November 6, 2021 at 11:36

    I’m surprised people are surprised ! Not so much COP but more like COP-OUT. The west’s governments are controlled by the fossil fuel groups. Huge contributions to political parties and individual politicians, and a revolving door for jobs for the politicians (Alan Duncan and Amber Rudd to name two recent posts). Corruption and misinformation is rife. And tax payer money will continue to be sprayed at the fake green technology companies. There will be no saving the environment with these crooks in power.

  4. Vera Gottlieb
    November 6, 2021 at 11:00

    Lots of ‘blah, blah, blah’s and lots of lies. Boycott those companies.

  5. November 6, 2021 at 08:10

    True climate change is real but,it seems policy makers are placing the bar too high to achieve the desired goals.Why don’t they start with the simplest like banning plastic bags, plastic water bottles that are the imidiate threat to our survival? They polluted our souls on which we cultivate crops, pollute rivers,lakes and oceans resulting in marine loss ete etc? It seems policy makers are up there missing in action on the real troubles down on the ground like those I’ve mentioned above. Therefore,all the talk at the COP26 is mere talk meant to show that something is being done when in actual sense they’re doing nothing.

    • Vera Gottlieb
      November 6, 2021 at 11:02

      We have known about climate chaos for the last 30 years. How many more ‘chances’ are YOU willing go give??? Dead people make for very poor customers…

  6. November 5, 2021 at 13:40

    So what? Governments WON’T address the problem in any meaningful way!

Comments are closed.