CAN Position:Conflicts-of-interest and polluting industry obstruction of climate policy in the UNFCCC Process, April 2020

We must urgently address the climate emergency and bring the world in line with a 1.5-degree Celsius pathway through ambitious and just climate action. However, the undue influence of industries who’s profit-making depends on activities that harm the climate, pose a major obstacle in advancing climate ambition. In direct contravention of the mandates of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the fossil fuel, big forestry and agribusiness industries, amongst others, drive the use and expansion of emissions-intensive products.  They use their accreditation and access to the UNFCCC processes to distract from the level of ambition needed and advance proposals that instead of bringing us fully in line with the goals and objectives of the Paris Agreement and UNFCCC, protect their profits above all and serve their private interests. They also block progress, fund climate denial, muddy political narratives and question scientific consensus on climate change publicly.

The UNFCCC has yet to address the issue of conflicts of interest in regards to the role of engagement with non-Party stakeholders. It is in the UNFCCC’s interest to ensure that strong policies that address and manage the risk for conflicts of interest and draw on best practice is put in place. Agreeing on a process to address these issues is an essential step towards ratcheting up ambition in line with what is necessary to achieve the Convention’s objectives.

In light of the above, Climate Action Network (CAN) recommends that the UNFCCC should:

  • Adopt an appropriate definition of ‘conflict of interest’, and a rigorous conflict of interest framework that
    • prevents entities with private interests from unduly influencing or undermining national and international climate policy; 
    • strengthens the procedures for admission of observers within the UNFCCC and its instruments; and
    • draws on established international precedent in a manner that is appropriate for the UNFCCC context.
  • In the absence of a process to develop policies to address conflicts of interest and to not undermine the objectives of the UNFCCC any further, the UNFCCC should stop inviting industry trade associations and other entities which represent and/or are beholden to the interests of polluting industries to present their views during the UNFCCC negotiation process, workshops or other events.  
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