If the fossil fuel lobby were a country delegation at COP26, it would be the largest with 503 delegates -- two dozen more than the largest country delegation, an analysis led by a human rights group showed on Monday.
Evaluating the participant list published by the UN at the start of the meeting, researchers led by Global Witness counted the number of people either directly associated with fossil fuel corporations, including the likes of Shell, Gazprom, and BP, or participating as members of delegations that act on behalf of the industry.
Over 500 fossil fuel lobbyists with links to some of the world's biggest polluting oil and gas giants have been accredited to take part in the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
The study showed that the fossil fuel lobby at the conference is larger than the combined total of the eight delegations from the nations worst affected by climate change in the past 20 years -- Puerto Rico, Myanmar, Haiti, Philippines, Mozambique, Bahamas, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
They also found that fossil fuel lobbyists are members of 27 country delegations, including Canada and Russia.
- Fossil fuel companies should be 'shut' from talks
'The presence of hundreds of those being paid to push the toxic interests of polluting fossil fuel companies, will only increase the skepticism of climate activists who see these talks as more evidence of global leaders' dithering and delaying,' said Murray Worthy, gas campaign leader at Global Witness, in a statement.
Also commenting on the analysis, Pascoe Sabido, a researcher for the Corporate Europe Observatory said companies such as Shell and BP are taking part in talks despite openly admitting to stepping up their production of fossil gas.
'If we're serious about raising ambition, then fossil fuel lobbyists should be shut out of the talks and out of our national capitals,' he said.
About 40,000 participants are attending COP26, with Brazil having sent the biggest official team of negotiators, according to UN data, with 479 delegates, followed by Turkey (376), the Democratic Republic of Congo (373), Ghana (337), and Russia (312).
By Aysu Bicer