COP26 starts in just over a week (find out more from our COP26 Hub here). However, a worrying news story is sending shockwaves around the world. The BBC are reporting that a leak of 32,000 documents show that coal lobbyists are targeting the IPCC claiming “that the world does not need to reduce the use of fossil fuels as quickly as the current draft of the report recommends“. This is a worrying development ahead of the COP26 climate summit. An event that some are calling the “last best hope for the world“.
What’s In the Leaked Documents?
The leaked documents were originally shared with Greenpeace’s investigative team, Unearthed.
Unearthed state that some of the “world’s biggest coal, oil, beef and animal feed-producing nations are attempting to strip a landmark UN climate report of findings that threaten those domestic economic interests“.
While Greenpeace has revealed that many of the comments submitted were constructive submissions some were not.
For example, two fossil-fuel producing countries, Saudi Arabia and Australia, as well as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are reported to be lobbying “to remove or weaken a key conclusion that the world needs to rapidly phase out fossil fuels”.
Similarly, two meat-producing countries, Argentina and Brazil, “have been pressing to delete messages about the climate benefits of promoting ‘plant-based’ diets and of curbing meat and dairy consumption”.
There was also a request to remove reference to “Meatless Monday” – an international campaign which challenges people to go meatless one day a week. Such requests are extremely worrying. Especially when, as we reported recently, 8 of the 10 worst foods to eat for greenhouse gas emissions are animal-based products.
Why are Coal Lobbyists Targeting the IPCC?
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produce assessment reports every 6-7 years. The Sixth Assessment Report is due next year. Three working groups contribute to the report:
- Working Group I address “the most updated physical understanding of the climate system and climate change”.
- Working Group II assess “the impacts of climate change”.
- Working Group III assessing “progress in limiting emissions”.
Information from Working Group I’s contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report is available. However, the documents leaked to Greenpeace are in relation to Working Group III’s contribution.
The IPCC report carries a lot of weight which is why it’s being targeted.
The report involves almost 1000 authors. Working Group I’s contribution alone includes over 14,000 citations.
This demonstrates how rigorous the data and evidence used within the report is. Therefore, the report is a threat to those who profit off of or from actions that harm the climate.
How Will This Impact COP26?
Currently, it’s difficult to say how the leak will impact COP26. The COP26 Presidency Timetable involves discussions on topics the countries mentioned above have been reportedly secretly lobbying against. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how this develops.
For many, the leaks show that the challenge for better climate advocacy from those in power is even tougher than first imagined. It shows us what we are up against.
Ultimately, it also shows how important the COP26 Green Zone Programme of Events is going to be. This is where organisations and individuals will have the opportunity to show world leaders the way in actionable climate advocacy.
This is a developing story. Head over to our COP26 Hub for the latest updates.