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Conflicts of interest and undue influence in climate action: Putting a stop to corporate efforts undermining climate policy and decisions

Public decision-making has long been subject to lobbying from private interests, such as businesses. Policy development concerning climate change is an ongoing major lobbying target of some of the most powerful industries. 2017 study by Influence Map found that 35 of 50 of the most influential companies in Europe and North America were actively lobbying to delay or dilute climate policy. These include companies in the fossil fuel value chain, energy-intensive companies, electric utilities and automotive manufacturers.

This policy brief explores the role of industry in climate policy and the importance of addressing conflicts of interest and undue influence to ensure climate action is taken urgently, efficiently and transparently. It explores developments at the UNFCCC related to conflicts of interest and where perceived conflicts of interest have been identified in the run-up to COP26.

The brief also puts forward recommendations concerning enhanced accountability and transparency within the UN climate negotiations and mechanisms related to the Paris Agreement and the Marrakech Partnership.

Among other things, Transparency International recommends that:

• The UNFCCC should establish definitions of “conflict of interest” and “undue influence” to ensure adequate controls on party delegations and engagement in negotiations

• The Paris Agreement Global Stocktake should secure inputs – including from civil society – on levels of private-sector finance used for lobbying and influencing governments at national, regional and international levels to undermine climate policy.