FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2023
UN Climate treaty participants required to disclose industry ties:
New UNFCCC rules a first step in addressing polluter interference in talks, yet still a long way to go
Bonn, Germany– As the second week of UN climate talks near a close in Bonn, Germany, public-interest civil society groups and rightsholder constituencies secured an overdue victory with the first ever set of requirements for all participants in UNFCCC processes to have to disclose their affiliation prior to participation. After a year-long conversation as part of a broader observer review, and years of broader campaigning to address polluter industry interference, this long overdue step was recently announced as part of an open dialogue between the UNFCCC Executive Secretary and observer organizations. It is the first of many needed steps towards transparency and the broader accountability measures needed to curb fossil fuel industry interference. Though it’s welcome, it’s simply not enough.
This step is hard-won by rightsholder constituencies and 30 years overdue. It is welcoming to see the UNFCCC giving this critical issue attention. Even so, equally and perhaps more important requirements such as financial sponsorship of those participating in UNFCCC activities have not been included in the measures that will be rolled out officially by the UN in upcoming days. This means that while we will finally know if a participant is employed directly by Big Polluters like the fossil fuel industry or affiliated organization, it will not be clear whether a participant is being funded by the industry to participate in climate talks. This is an issue especially for representatives of fossil fuel-funded trade associations, foundations, and even think tanks that help push a fossil-fueled agenda.
The new measures come after years of dedicated campaigning from public-interest civil society organizations– representing climate and climate justice groups, women and gender groups, trade unions, and youth– who have been demanding an Accountability Framework to protect climate action from the vested interests of polluters. From more than 450 organizations and networks calling for change to a cross-parliamentary letter signed by hundreds of elected officials, and research exposing legions of lobbyists descending on talks, this victory has been the result of people power. “While this is a needed step forward in the context of decades of fossil fuel corporate capture of the climate talks, we need to continue demanding that these measures are the first of many, and that they lead to additional measures that have a real impact in protecting climate action.” said Tasneem Essop, Executive Director at Climate Action Network International. “Addressing the undue influence of the fossil fuel industry and other Big Polluters must begin, not end, with this step forward.”
The UNFCCC’s anticipated new disclosure of affiliation procedure is a needed first step in understanding who is at the climate policymaking table, and what their interests might be. But in order to more fully advance transparency and accountability more broadly, it must also be made clear who is paying for an individuals’ participation, and whether they have any other forms of links to the fossil fuel industry. "When young people see the number of fossil fuel lobbyists present at UNFCCC conferences, it makes us question the ability this process has to solve the biggest challenge threatening our futures," said Scott Kirby from YOUNGO. “This is why we welcome the step made today to increase transparency of observer interests in the talks. This is a very belated first step in a long journey. We wait with open eyes for the UNFCCC to introduce more accountability into the COP process - a comprehensive Conflict of Interest policy is more necessary than ever."
"We can only meaningfully tackle the climate crisis when we Kick Big Polluters Out. Fortunately, we have the real solutions, including gender just climate solutions, and have the power in collective feminist movements, to prevent untold suffering, in particular amongst women and girls in the Global South. This is strengthened with weeding out undue influence of Big Polluters that seek to undermine climate action. COP28 is our best chance to start implementing them and we must do so in the most gender responsive, and effective and impactful way," said Hwei Mian Lim, from the Women and Gender Constituency.
The UNFCCC is finally beginning to take the first baby steps to address the fossil fuel industry’s underhanded role in climate negotiations and to protect the credibility of global climate governance. Now, it needs to build on this to put in place more systematic measures that meaningfully keep Big Polluters from undermining the climate action we need to survive and thrive. It’s time to Kick Big Polluters Out!
Additional quotes from UNFCCC constituencies and Kick Big Polluters Out members:
“Last year TotalEnergies’ head lobbyists entered COP27 anonymously because the French oil and gas giant paid an NGO to get him in. That will no longer be possible thanks to the new measures proposed by the UN secretariat, and it’s an important first step. But if we want to wrestle these talks back from the crushing influence of the fossil fuel industry, we need to go much, much further.” Pascoe Sabido, Corporate Europe Observatory
“The climate crisis wasn’t born out of thin air. There are people profiting off the destruction of the earth and death of Black and Brown communities. The fossil fuel industry is directly responsible and shouldn’t be allowed to anonymously influence climate negotiation outcomes. The decision to require participants to disclose ties is a step in the right direction.” Alexia, Start:Empowerment, member of YOUNGO & WGC
"Let's be clear. Corporations are not in the UNFCCC to innocently 'contribute' but to bend the process towards their interests because their goal is profit. It is absurd trying to justify their massive involvement with the principle of inclusivity which is not meant for the powerful ones, but rather for the marginalized groups that have no access to the privilege spaces of international decision making. Despite the immense power of the Big Polluters of the world, the time of their impunity will see its end. A legitimate COP is a fossil fuel free COP. There is no climate justice without human rights." Gadir Lavadenz, Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice
“There is no place for fossil fuel lobbyists in the international climate negotiations. Foxes have no place in the henhouse. This important step to increase transparency is a milestone that moves us closer to kicking Big Polluters out of this process.” Sara Shaw, Friends of the Earth International
"The alarming level of corporate influence in the climate talks is truly unacceptable. We cannot afford to let corporations pose as saviour while their actions clearly fuels the climate crisis. As a prominent player in international climate negotiations with a big historical responsibility, Germany must take a leading role in addressing this issue. It is crucial that we prioritize the voices and decisions of people, ensuring they are free from the stranglehold of corporate capture.”Susann Scherbarth, Head of Climate Justice, Friends of the Earth Germany