Oil and coal-rich countries lobbying to weaken UN climate report, leak shows | Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Countries producing coal, oil, beef and animal feed have campaigned to water down a landmark UN climate report, according to a leak in documents the Greenpeace investigation team saw.

Days before Cop26, the international climate change negotiations taking place in Glasgow, the leaks show fossil fuel producers like Australia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Japan are lobbying the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to remove recommendations that the world must phase out fossil fuels.

According to the documents, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which includes Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela, also supported a weakening of the report’s recommendations on fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, major meat and dairy producers such as Brazil and Argentina were reportedly trying to change the messages about the climate benefits of promoting a plant-based diet, according to the leakage of more than 32,000 comments from governments, corporations, academics and others on the draft report Working group III of the IPCC, which deals with measures to protect the earth from rising temperatures.

Simon Lewis, professor of the science of global change at University College London, told Unearthed, “These comments highlight the tactics some countries are willing to use to hamper and delay action to reduce emissions. On the eve of the crucial Cop26 talks, I have a clear public interest in hearing what these governments are saying behind the scenes.

“Like most scientists, I feel uncomfortable with the leakage of draft reports because, in an ideal world, the scientists who write these reports should be able to do their jobs quietly. But we don’t live in an ideal world, and with emissions still rising, the stakes couldn’t be higher. “

The IPCC said its processes were designed to prevent lobbying, using “diverse and balanced teams of authors, an open review process and consensual decision-making on texts”.

Prof. Martin Siegert, co-director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, said the report exposed the behavior of certain countries that have tried to halt progress in decarbonization.

“However, this lobbying has no impact on the scientific credibility of the IPCC report. That the IPCC is keeping science alive in the face of such strong self-interest is a triumph, and we should be grateful to the scientists involved for not giving in to the pressures, ”he said.

“Do not be under the illusion that decarbonization at the levels we need to avoid dangerous climate change is being funded by some, perhaps many, in the fossil fuel industry and by a number of people, companies, and nations financially supported by fossil fuels benefit, be rejected. “

Mark Maslin, Professor of Earth System Science at University College London, said: “Countries have always been encouraged to comment on all IPCC reports on climate change. Many countries are taking this as an opportunity to persuade scientists to change their conclusions – for example Australia, which wants to support coal, Saudi Arabia wants oil, Russia wants natural gas and Brazil wants beef production.

“But it doesn’t affect the reports. Scientists, social scientists, and economists working on these reports are guided by the evidence and the best for the world and all of its peoples. It is for this reason that the public and politicians around the world trust scientists and the IPCC reports, knowing that they are not being influenced by petty politics.

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What is the IPCC?


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a United Nations body. It is based in Geneva and was founded in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Program to assess the level of knowledge about climate change.

For each report, the IPCC gathers hundreds of high-level scientists from around the world to assess the current state of knowledge. It publishes important “assessment reports” every five to seven years, with the next “AR6” due in 2022, as well as special reports on an ad hoc basis. The IPCC has more than 190 member countries and its reports are produced and reviewed in stages to ensure their quality, with member governments signing off the final versions.

The Principles Governing IPCC Work states that it will assess the following:

  • the risk of man-made climate change
  • possible effects
  • possible prevention options

In October 2018, it published a special report analyzing current climate research, stating that we have 12 years to contain the climate change catastrophe and that urgent changes are needed to reduce the risk of extreme heat, Reduce drought, floods and poverty.

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“The lobbying also makes it clear what we need to do to reduce climate change: stop using coal as soon as possible, stop using oil and natural gas as soon as possible, stop deforestation and start reforestation and become one Switch to more plant-based diets and definitely reduce the amount of beef we produce. This will not only reduce our CO2 emissions, but also save millions of lives due to the massively improved air quality and nutrition. “

At Cop26, which starts at the end of the month, representatives from most countries will come together to try to agree on measures to deal with the climate crisis. Delegates are urged to do their part to meet a global warming target of 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels in order to avoid the most serious and irreversible damage to the planet.

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