UN vows more 'transparency' of climate talks attendance

AFP , Wednesday 2 Aug 2023

The UN is promising to publish more details of participants of high-stakes COP climate talks, amid criticism from campaigners that the negotiations are attracting surging numbers of fossil-fuel lobbyists.

A handout image provided by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) News Agency (WAM) shows the UAE s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and COP28 President-Designate Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber (R) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Simon Stiell during a signing ceremony of the Host Country Agreement in Abu Dhabi, on August 1, 2023. AFP


As registration opened this week for this year's COP28 climate talks, to be held in oil-rich United Arab Emirates, the United Nations body that oversees the climate talks has published new rules asking participants to give greater details about who they work for.

A decision to decline to reveal these details will also be made public.

"In recent years, the number of participants has been steadily increasing and the purpose of participation has diversified, with many activities going on in parallel with the core negotiation meetings," UN Climate Change said on its website.

It conceded that "there has not been full transparency in terms of who is participating" at the annual COP talks and supporting meetings.

Last year, more than 600 lobbyists from some of the world's biggest polluters registered to the climate talks in Egypt, according to an analysis by groups including Global Witness and Corporate Accountability, which said that was a 25-percent increase on the previous year's meeting in Glasgow.

The number of COP attendees has grown in recent years as the urgency of tackling the rise of planet-heating emissions from fossil fuels increases.

Observers said the more than 38,000 participants at the 2021 Glasgow COP26 meeting had made it the biggest such climate talks at that time.

A final list for last year's talks in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh released by the UN suggests nearly 50,000 people participated.

And this time around the organisers have said they are planning for up to 80,000 people.

Alice Harrison, fossil fuels campaign leader at Global Witness, welcomed the UN transparency move, but said greater openness would not stop fossil fuel linked delegates "continue to march unashamedly and brazenly through COP's front doors".

"UN climate talks must be shut, locked and bolted from the influence of the very companies that are most to blame for pushing our planet to boiling point," she told AFP.

The UAE's COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber, has said the phase-down of fossil fuels is "inevitable", but has been under heavy fire from critics saying his position as an oil and gas executive is a conflict of interest because burning fossil fuels is by far the main driver of global warming.

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