COP28: Less than 10% of businesses at climate summit lobbying for stronger green policies

The analysis, conducted by InfluenceMap, cross-references the official list of business representatives present at COP28 in Dubai with the organisation’s existing LobbyMap’ platform. This platform tracks the global green policy lobbying activities of the world’s 500 biggest businesses, both directly and indirectly through trade bodies.

Fewer than one in ten of the corporations present at COP28 are deemed by InfluenceMap as truly aligning their climate policy engagement with the changes that scientists believe are necessary to keep the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C pathway in reach.

InfluenceMap has highlighted how several businesses which are misaligned with this pathway to the greatest extent have chosen to send large delegations to Dubai. Russian oil and gas major Gazprom, plus US-headquartered fossil fuel majors ExxonMobil and Chevron, all have more than 10 staff in attendance.

As expected, the UAE’s state-owned oil and gas company ADNOC also has a delegation exceeding 10 people.

The COP28 Presidency team has been scrutinized ever since Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber was chosen as President-Designate in January. He is the United Arab Emirates’ Special Envoy for Climate Change and its Minister for Energy and Technology. But he is also the chief executive of the state-owned ADNOC.

Some ADNOC staff reportedly had access to emails and documents regarding the organization of COP28. Moreover, Al Jaber has also been accused of trying to conduct oil deals on the sidelines of the summit, which would not be unheard of in COP history but nonetheless prompted calls for his resignation from climate activists. He has denied these claims.

InfluenceMap has stated that European oil and gas majors includingShell, Equinor, TotalEnergies, and Eni “also have significant COP28 contingents”, It has noted that these firms are generally taking “more nuanced positions” on lobbying, stating support for certain policies but still advocating strongly for a larger, continued role for fossil fuels beyond that advised by climate scientists.

The news from InfluenceMap comes after campaign group Kick Polluters Out trawled through the list of 100,000+ registered COP28 attendees to determine how many are fossil fuel lobbyists. It applies this label to decision-makers at state-owned and private energy companies, plus delegations of petrostates with major expansion plans.

There are a record 100,000+ people registered for COP28. KPO estimates that around 2.5% of them fit its definition of a fossil fuel lobbyist. For context, this is five times the number of scientists on the ground, and seven times the number of Indigenous representatives.

Also worth noting is that KPO has tracked a fourfold increase in fossil fuel lobbyists on the numbers present last year at COP27 in Egypt.

The key fight in the negotiating rooms at COP28 is whether nations will agree to a phase-out or phase-down of fossil fuels, and to what extent this commitment will be hedged by a potential loophole for carbon capture. The battleground concerns oil and gas more than coal.

Outside of the oil and gas industry, InfluenceMap’s list of COP28 attendee firms that generally oppose progressive climate policy includes the likes of Toyota, BMW, Nippon Steel Corporation, Lufthansa, Glencore, BASF, and Cargill.

Blockers vs leaders

InfluenceMap also highlighted how, while they have less presence and influencing power, there are a growing number of businesses attending COPs that are “actively seeking to counter fossil fuel influence”.

Included in this cohort are the likes of EDF, Iberdrola, Unilever, Schneider Electric, SSE, Google and Amazon. InfluenceMap has also tracked attendance from renewable energy trade bodies including the American Clean Power Association, SolarPower Europe, Wind Europe, the Australian Clean Energy Council, and South African Wind Energy Association.

Notably, InfluenceMap found that around half (52%) of the corporates with a COP28 presence are not involved in green policy lobbying to a significant extent. There is still a role for most firms to play in terms of bolder engagement with policymakers.

Access all of edie’s COP28 content here.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie