Analysis by environmental campaign group Global Witness has found that more than 500 people from the global oil and gas industry are in attendance at the COP26 climate talks despite a lack of industry visibility on the floor of the UN climate summit.
The 503 delegates associated with the fossil fuel industry represent about two dozen more than the largest country delegation at the Glasgow summit, Global Witness said.
Researchers studied the about-40,000-strong list of accredited delegates for the conference and counted the number of people either directly affiliated with fossil fuel corporations — including the likes of Shell, Gazprom and BP — or attending as members of delegations that act on behalf of the fossil fuel industry.
They found that more than 100 oil and gas companies are represented at COP26 with 30 trade associations and membership organisations also present.
The 503 delegates associated with oil and gas is also a larger group than the combined total of the eight delegations from the countries worst affected by climate change in the last two decades — Puerto Rico, Myanmar, Haiti, Philippines, Mozambique, Bahamas, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Murray Worthy, campaign leader at Global Witness, said: “They may not be walking around Glasgow with their colours pinned to their chests, but fossil fuel lobbyists are present in their hundreds at COP26.
“If the industry were a country, it would be the most represented at the critical talks. It’s a sign of progress that they are unable to attend so brazenly but equally a reminder of how far we still must go that they are there in such numbers."
The writers of the Global Witness report did not welcome this presence, however.
“Let’s be clear, those representing the fossil fuel industry are pushing the narrow and destructive interests of the continued burning and extraction of fossil fuels – regardless of what shape that influence takes,” the report stated.
Upstream reported last week on the lack of a formal visible presence of oil and gas companies at fringe events at COP26, despite the likes of BP, Shell, TotalEnergies, Eni and Equinor all investing billions of dollars into renewable and lower-carbon forms of energy.
Two weeks ago, Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden said the company had been told “we were not welcome” at COP26.
About 35,000 to 40,000 people are attending the two-week talks that are aiming to limit the dangerous effects of rising global temperatures.
Brazil has the largest country delegation in Glasgow with almost 480 delegates.