Leaked documents have shown that several countries – including Australia, Saudi Arabia and Japan – are lobbying to change an important climate report ahead of the COP26 summit, the BBC reported.
Countries are reportedly asking the UN to downplay the need to move away from fossil fuels, in addition to paying poorer countries more to adopt greener technologies.
According to the BBC, the 32,000 leaked submissions come from all sides – including governments, industry stakeholders and other parties – and are directed to the team of scientists from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that is compiling the assessment report.
Updated every six to seven years, the report evaluates the best course of action to tackle climate change and, as seen by the BBC, is providing sound advice.
Big oil exporters such as Saudi Arabia and Australia have reportedly played down the rate at which countries need to move away from fossil fuels, with one Saudi official saying “phrases like ‘the need for urgent and accelerated mitigation actions at all scales…’ should be eliminated from the report”.
An Australian senior official has reportedly debated the need to close coal plants, while an Indian scientist with ties to the government has admitted India will rely on coal production for decades.
Other global stakeholders such as OPEC and Norway have lobbied for the report to include carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies as a way forward.
Such technologies – which capture carbon emissions and store them underground – could potentially help tackle climate change but, according to the IPCC, their feasibility is uncertain.
“There is large ambiguity in the extent to which fossil fuels with CCS would be compatible with the 2C and 1.5C targets”, the BBC reported the draft document as saying.
Governments and stakeholders’ comments are a part of the IPCC’s scientific review process but don’t hold any weight in terms of scientists incorporating them in the report.
“There is absolutely no pressure on scientists to accept the comments,” Professor Corinne le Quere, a Royal Society research professor of climate change science, told the BBC. “If the comments are lobbying, if they’re not justified by the science, they will not be integrated in the IPCC reports.”