Press release 21st Oct 2021

COP26: Action needed to address conflicts of interest undermining climate action

October 21, 2021 - Slow progress in addressing conflicts of interest leaves the world’s biggest climate conference vulnerable to undue influence and risks undermining its legitimacy, Transparency International warned today.

Ahead of the annual climate summit in Glasgow, the global anti-corruption coalition is calling on the UK to show leadership and use its COP26 Presidency to introduce measures that would help address conflicts of interest in climate policy.

In a letter to Alok Sharma, the COP26 President, Transparency International and its UK chapter caution that even the perception of conflicts of interest are enough to undermine public confidence and threaten progress towards the Paris Agreement goals.

Read the letter

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) underpins the UN’s annual COP summit but has weak safeguards to prevent private interests from wielding disproportionate influence.

For years, producers of greenhouse gasses have been spending billions of dollars lobbying against climate action, diluting climate policy and preventing meaningful inroads being made. The five biggest oil companies – British Petroleum, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and Total – reportedly spent a combined US$200 million annually (approx.) on lobbying to ‘“control, delay or block” climate policy in the four years after the 2016 Paris Agreement.

Just today, leaked documents revealed how some wealthy nations are working behind the scenes to slow down efforts to address climate change. 

Further concerns about conflicts of interest have been raised in the run-up to COP26, with the UK Government hiring a firm that advises the fossil fuel industry to help organise the summit. UK ministers also reportedly held a series of private meetings with major fossil fuel companies that were eager to be part of the climate talks.


Daniel Bruce, Chief Executive of Transparency International UK, said:

“Climate change is one of the most pressing issues on the global agenda, but conflicts of interest – whether real or perceived – undermine work to combat it. Fossil fuel companies with huge budgets for lobbying and political donations have a clear incentive to oppose carbon targets, but there are few safeguards to prevent them from wielding undue influence over climate action. With all eyes on the outcome of the COP26 summit, ‘Global Britain’ should seize this opportunity and show leadership by both tackling the climate crisis and creating a lasting legacy in the way future climate summits are run.”