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The disappointing composition of COP26 delegates

(CU)_The much anticipated UN climate summit is currently underway in Glasgow, where global leaders, policy makers, climate experts, environmental campaigners and many other interested parties have met to discuss the need for collective efforts to tackle the ongoing climate crisis. About 40,000 people are believed to be attending this year’s Conference of the Parties, which is billed as a last chance for world leaders to come together to limit global warming 1.5°C, as set out by the Paris Agreement.

However, an assessment of the participant list which was published by the UN at the start of the summit has exposed the disappointing composition of the COP26 delegates, as the oil and gas, the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions, seeks to cripple global climate efforts. Campaigners led by Global witness evaluated the list and found that 503 delegates at the summit have links to fossil fuel interests, who were present with the aim of lobbying for oil and gas industries.

“With the world quickly running out of time to avert climate disaster, this COP absolutely must be a success. The case for meaningful global action must not be diverted by a festival of polluters and their mouthpieces, who have no interest in seeing the changes we need to protect people and the planet,” Murray Worthy, the Gas Campaign Leader at Global Witness, said. He further noted that the presence of hundreds of these individuals, who are being paid to push the toxic interests of fossil fuel companies, only increases the scepticism of climate campaigners who seek to tackle the crisis with utmost urgency. 

The 503 delegates identified by Global Witness include members of groups representing the interests of oil and gas companies or anyone who is part of a delegation of a trade association. Among them, the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) was one of the biggest groups identified by the NGO, with 103 delegates in attendance.

According to Alessandro Vitelli, a spokesman for the IETA, the association’s objective is to find the most efficient market-based means of minimising carbon emissions. “We have law firms, we have project developers, the guys who are putting clean technology on the ground around the world, they’re also members of our association as well,” he said.

However, Global Witness claims that the IETA is one of the biggest promoters of carbon trading and offsetting, so that they may continue extracting oil and gas.

“This is an association that has an enormous number of fossil fuel companies as its members. Its agenda is driven by fossil fuel companies and serves the interests of fossil fuel companies,” Worthy noted. “What we seeing is the putting forward of false solutions that appear to be climate action but actually preserve the status quo, and prevent us from taking the clear, simple actions to keep fossil fuels in the ground that we know are the real solutions to climate crisis.”

Meanwhile, in terms of national delegations, Brazil is having the biggest official team of negotiators, with 479 representatives at the summit. The host of the event, the United Kingdom has 230 registered delegates, according to UN data.

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