OPEN LETTER – Fossil Free Politics COP26

A Fossil Free Politics COP26 open letter to decision-makers


Prime Minister Boris Johnson

COP26 President Alok Sharma

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

Executive Vice President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans;

Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC Patricia Espinoza

Dear decision-makers,

We are writing to you as 138 civil society groups ahead of the crucial upcoming UN climate talks in Glasgow, COP26. We are calling on you to address the elephant in the room which is holding back global climate ambition: the fossil fuel industry and its lobbying. 

Specifically, we call on you to take the following urgent measures:

1- Recognise that the public interest in urgent climate action in line with keeping global heating to below 1.5oC is not compatible with the private interests of fossil fuel companies

For decades the fossil fuel industry has been successfully delaying, weakening and sabotaging greater climate ambition, and as long as it continues to maintain its access to decision-makers and the policy-making process, then it will use that access to obstruct real climate action.

The International Energy Agency’s recent 1.5oC scenario clearly states there is no room for new fossil fuel investments, yet most of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies are ignoring this and plan to keep exploring for new oil and gas. The majority of coal, oil and gas reserves have to stay in the ground if we are to keep to 1.5°C, yet vested economic interests are being placed before those of the planet.

2- Support the adoption of a strong conflict of interest policy at the UNFCCC to raise ambition

The positive impact on effective policy that can be achieved by excluding vested interests has already been successfully demonstrated at the UN level by the World Health Organisation (WHO) when agreeing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (UNFCTC). The WHO instituted a firewall between the tobacco lobby and public health officials after realising there was a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict of interest between the tobacco industry and public health. Known as Article 5.3, it also comes with clear guiding principles on how to apply it.

In 2016, countries representing almost 70% of the world’s population supported the introduction of a conflict of interest policy at the UNFCCC, but it was blocked by the European Union (then including the UK). This is despite the European Parliament calling on the EU to support such a process.

A new conflict of interest policy could gain strong political momentum if the UK government, as COP26 President, the European Commission, and the UNFCCC publicly supported such a call at COP26, acting in accordance with the wishes of most of the world’s population.

3-Protect official spaces at and around COP26 from fossil fuel industry influence 

The UK government has taken measures that have resulted in no Oil and Gas major sponsoring COP26 or taking part in the Green Zone, yet gas companies National Grid and SSE are still named sponsors. Protecting official spaces would include revoking fossil fuel sponsorship and participation in both the Blue and Green Zones, as well as pavilions. The EU should not use its pavilion to give a platform to the fossil fuel industry.

While many global South government and civil society delegates have been shut out of COP26, despite the UK government claiming it was a “safe, inclusive summit”, representatives from many of these companies will be proactively promoting their pro-fossil fuel vested interests at COP26. Particularly given the unequal access to this year’s talks, we expect representatives of the UK, EU and UNFCCC to refuse to share platforms or attend fossil fuel sponsored events in and around COP26.

4-Close the revolving door between your own institutions and the fossil fuel industry 

Recent research from the Fossil Free Politics campaign shows that Europe’s biggest oil and gas companies continue to have an active relationship with public officials and politicians thanks to their use of the revolving door. Between COP21 and COP26 it discovered over 70 revolving door cases between Shell, BP, Total, Eni, Equinor, Galp and 5 of their lobby groups with governments and institutions, all the way up to the ministerial level. Big Energy therefore benefits from the know-how and contact books of insiders, jeopardising democratic, public-interest decision-making.

The UK, EU and UNFCCC should close the revolving door by introducing restrictions on moving from the public sector to the fossil fuel industry or vice-versa, as well as ending industry side jobs.

5-The UK and EU should introduce a firewall between the fossil fuel industry and decision-makers

Since COP21,  Total, BP, Shell, Galp, Equinor, ENI and their lobby groups spent more than €170m on lobbying the EU, securing on average 1.5 meetings per week with top level EU Commission staff. This is part of a broader corporate capture of climate decision-making by the fossil fuel industry that ensures that ambition, and the policies to realise those goals, remains limited. As well as supporting a firewall at the UNFCCC, the EU and UK should ensure climate decision-making is protected from fossil fuel interests at the regional, national and local level. In addition to closing the revolving door, this should involve ending private lobby meetings with the fossil fuel industry, excluding the industry from climate or trade delegations, and refusing to attend fossil fuel-sponsored events.

We hope many signatories to this letter will be at COP26 in person, despite the constraints, and would appreciate a face-to-face meeting to discuss how you can increase ambition by protecting the process from the vested influence of the fossil fuel industry. We will closely observe the extent to which the UK, EU and UNFCCC take action to curb the influence of the fossil fuel industry at COP26.

We look forward to discussing this more in person,

(see the letter in pdf here)

Signed ,

Corporate Europe Obseratory

Friends of the Earth Europe

Food and Water Action Europe

Global Witness

Fossil Free Sweden

Friends of the Earth Scotland

London Mining Network

Reclame Fossielvrij (Fossil Free Advertising NL)


APEL57 (Association pour la préservation de l’environnement)

Counter Balance

Glasgow Calls Out Polluters

Observatori del Deute en la Globalització (ODG)

UK Youth Climate Coalition

Corporate Accountability

Gastivists Collective

Global Justice Now

Transport & Environment

Oil Change International


JA! Justica Ambiental

Ecologistas en Acción (Spain)


Eco Action Families

FridaysForFuture in Skövde, Sweden

Fridays for future Lidköping, Sweden

Fridays for future Söder om Söder, Sweden

Fridays for Future Flensburg

NOAH – Friends of the Earth Denmark

Rise For Climate Belgium

Amigos de la Tierra Espana

Powershift e.V

Bellagram Telegrams

Observatori DESC

CCFD-Terre Solidaire

BP or not BP?

Friends of the Earth Ireland


Earth Ethics, Inc.

Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development

Campagna Per il clima Fuori dal fossile

WOW Wales One World Film Festival

Movimento No TAP/SNAM Brindisi

Baltic Pipe Ne jTtak!

Council of Canadians

Climate Emergency Planning and Policy

350 Butte County, CA

Centre for Climate Safety

Texas Drought Project

Salviamo la Foresta

Edinburgh COP Coalition

Communication Workers Union NW Safety Forum

My Sea to Sky

350 West Sound Climate Action

The Corner House

Friends of the Earth Georgia

Climate Action Moreland (Australia)


Plant Based Treaty

Animal Save Movement

Comitato Cittadini per l’Ambiente Sulmona

Coord. Ravennate Per il Clima, Fuori al Fossile

Trivelle Zero Molise

Trivelle Zero Marche

Forum Ambientalista

Fridays For Future Civitavecchia

MY World Mexico

Church Women United in New York State

Nelson chapter Council of Canadians

Akina Mama wa Afrika


Cittadini e Lavoratori Liberi e Pensanti

Comitato Sole Civitavecchia

BioAmbiente Tarquinia

Piazza 048 Civitavecchia

Associazione Spazio Solidale

Collettivo No al Fossile

Comitato per la Trasformazione Ecologica Brindisi


Ethical Markets

RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs)

Center for Research and Documentation Chile-Latin America (FDCL)

The people’s campaign for healthcare

The Port Arthur Community Action Network-”PACAN”

Grand(m)others Act to Save the Planet GASP

Group of Scientists and Engineers for a Non Nuclear Future

Aktionsgemeinschaft Solidarische Welt e.V. (Action for World Solidarity)

Gallifrey Foundation

ASEED Europe

ARRCC (Australian Religious Response to Climate Change)


Friends of the Earth Cyprus

Faith for the Climate


Community Work Ireland

Terra Justa

Institute for Multi-level Governance & Development

Action Solidarité Tiers Monde (Luxembourg)

Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)

Bank Information Center

ECOMUNIDADES, Red Ecologista Autónoma de la Cuenca de México

Texas Campaign for the Environment

The Global Sunrise Project

Human Nature

Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI)

Movement Rights

Centre for Citizens Conserving Environment (CECIC)

Fresh Eyes

Warrior Moms

Toronto East End Climate Collective

Institute for Social Ecology

Transition Edinburgh

Canadian Voice of Women for Peace


Oxford Climate Justice Campaign

EKOenergy ecolabel


TROCA- Plataforma por um Comércio Internacional Justo

GAIA – Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives

Deutsche Umwelthilfe

198 methods

Canadian Climate Challenge

Seniors for Climate Action Now!

Toronto Raging Grannies

Stay Grounded


The Good Lobby

CEE Bankwatch Network



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