By Claire Gordon • 21 October 2021 • 20:30
Ahead of the 26th edition of the Conference of the Parties (COP26), a massive document leak has shown certain countries lobbying to change an important scientific report on climate change. The climate report outlines key strategies on how to tackle the ongoing crisis. The leak reveals Australia, Japan and Saudi Arabia are among the countries trying to convince the UN to downplay moving away from fossil fuels as an immediate need.
The information contained in the leaked documents raises questions ahead of the COP26 summit in November. The UN has a set of recommendations for action and wants countries around the globe to commit to slowing down climate change. The papers leaked to the BBC consist of more than 32,000 interested party submissions made out to the team of scientists working for the UN, bringing together evidence and best practice to make a full assessment of the situation. These reports are created every six to seven years by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
This latest version will be crucial to negotiations at the upcoming Glasgow conference. The reason behind these reports holding so much authority comes partly from the fact that almost all the governments in the world participate in the process to reach an agreement. The contentious issue for the lobbying countries is the move away from fossil fuels. Australia, a major coal exporter, is rejecting the conclusion that closing coal-fired power plants is necessary, even though this contradicts a main objective of COP26.
An adviser to the Saudi oil ministry demands “phrases like ‘the need for urgent and accelerated mitigation actions at all scales…’ should be eliminated from the report”.Saudi Arabia is one of the largest oil producers in the world.
The IPCC says comments from governments are central to its scientific review process and that its authors have no obligation to incorporate them into the reports. “Our processes are designed to guard against lobbying – from all quarters”, the IPCC told the BBC. “The review process is (and always has been) absolutely fundamental to the IPCC’s work and is a major source of the strength and credibility of our reports.”
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