In lead-up to COP28, 133 U.S. and European elected officials urge ouster of oil executive as president of upcoming climate talks

Letter also encourages UNFCCC to require companies participating in COP to submit an audited corporate political influencing statement

Washington (May 23, 2023)– Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I). and European Parliament Member Manon Aubry today in sending a letter to President Joe Biden, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Simon Stiell, urging the officials to rid COP28 and all future international climate talks of persistent interference from the fossil fuel industry. The transatlantic letter, signed by 133 members of Congress and the European Parliament, was delivered as countries prepare for the Bonn Climate Change Conference in early June, a precursor to COP28 this winter.

The signatories called on U.S., EU, and UN officials to push the UAE to withdraw Sultan Al Jaber’s appointment as COP28 president. Al Jaber is the head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, which recently announced a plan to significantly expand its oil and gas production. The decision to name the chief executive of one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies as president of COP28 jeopardizes the opportunity for serious and productive climate negotiations.

The letter also requests that the UNFCCC require companies participating in COPs to submit an audited corporate political influencing statement that discloses climate-related lobbying, campaign contributions, and funding of trade associations and organizations active on energy and climate issues. According to one analysis, at least 636 lobbyists from the oil and gas industries registered to attend COP27 last year.

“Big Oil interests have contaminated our climate for decades—they shouldn’t be able to control our climate negotiations for a livable future,” said Senator Markey. “As leaders from around the world come together to envision a world that promotes clean energy and climate justice, not pollution and profiteering, we must shut the door on the fossil fuel industry and keep COP28 free from their influence.”

“COPs offer the largest and most important venue to find international agreement on ways to solve the climate crisis,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Companies participating should be required to file audited climate political footprint statements to ensure transparency at the world’s major forum for leading the planet to safety in the race against climate change.”

“For billions of people, the outcome of COP28 and ensuing international climate negotiations will make the difference between life and death, chaos and solidarity,” said MEP Aubry. “Corporate greed and lobbyists’ lies have led us into this climate crisis. We must prevent private commercial interests from interfering in politics and regain ownership of our future.”

“For decades, the fossil fuel industry has been well aware of the dangers of climate change. Despite this, they have continually promoted climate denial, downplayed their role in emitting greenhouse gas pollution, and have created countless roadblocks on our path toward a clean energy future. The last thing we need is the chief executive of one of the planet’s largest oil and gas companies at the helm of global climate negotiations. For the sake of our planet, President Biden, President von der Leyen, Secretary General Guterres, and Executive Secretary Stiell ought to use their power to keep the influence of the dirty fossil industry out of UNFCCC processes,” said Representative Huffman.

“The annual COP is critical to all people and nations to accelerate the response to the climate crisis,” said Representative Castor. “We cannot afford for our decision-making to be delayed or influenced by the very companies that got us into this crisis. The health of our communities and the future of our planet hang in the balance. We must act swiftly, and we must put people over the profits and interests of big oil and gas.”

The letter was cosigned by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt).  Twenty-seven members of the House of Representatives, including co-leads Representatives Jared Huffman (CA-02) and Kathy Castor (FL-14), signed the letter. Ninty-nine members of the European Parliament also signed the letter. A coalition of over 425 civil society organizations worldwide, led by Corporate Accountability and Corporate Europe Observatory, have endorsed the letter, as has the Sierra Club.

The full letter can be found HERE or below.