COP26 Polluter Watch

Keeping an eye on bampot companies influencing the UK Government in the run-up to COP26

Imagine, for a moment, that you are a big polluter. You have a list of crimes that should result in a swift visit to The Hague.

It’s likely that, if that were you, you would have the decency to at least feel some shame for your actions and continued pollution of our planet. 

You would not: 

  • Try to convince the public that the climate crisis is their fault. 
  • Pretend that your crimes don’t exist
  • Interfere in politics, by helping to set policy to reflect your profit motive, not those of humanity. 

And yet, this is exactly what happens. 

And it happens in one of the biggest events of all, the UN Conference of Parties (UN COP), which sets global agreements on the climate crisis. And our city of Glasgow plays host to it in 2021. And our government seems openly willing to pander to the interests of these big polluters, over and above the interests of their constituencies, public and the planet that we call home.

So with corporations and our governments afraid/unwilling to take ownership of any shame about the crimes that they are 100% culpable for. And with our government unwilling to feel shame about supporting these interests, we are happy to help by documenting some of the most shameful examples of interference ahead of the upcoming UN COP.

So brace yourself, here is our current record of polluters infiltrating COP26.


You may be unsurprised to hear that the UK Government has been licking the boot of BP in the run up to the UN COP. 

Revelations from Unearthed found that Andrea Leadsom – then UK Energy Secretary – told BP that they would be a “key stakeholder” in the upcoming UN COP.

BP executives also met the government’s COP26 unit “to discuss how BP could contribute to the presidency”. UK Government officials also proposed to ask what “more we can do” to support BP’s international work.  

And Kwasi Kwarteng – minister for “clean growth” – met with BP executives in what seems like quite a sycophantic meeting, even for the UK Government’s standards of bootlicking. They promised to support the oil giant’s “business wins” internationally whilst encouraging them to invest in the energy transition. Of course, by energy transition, they meant carbon capture and underground storage (CCUS). 

Previous COPs

BP have in the past gained access to the space through the International Emissions Trading Association and the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute Ltd who brought BP to many COPs, here is evidence of their attendance at the last two: 

BP’s record

Lest you need reminding, BP are one of the world’s top polluters, they spend a pathetic sum on clean energy and have been responsible for some of the worst environmental disasters in history. There is nothing about BP that suggests they take the climate crisis seriously. 

However, what they do take seriously is advertising! The UN COP will provide a great advertising opportunity but sadly for BP, a complaint by Client Earth found that BP’s “Possibilities Everywhere” campaign misled the public. In February 2020, CEO Bernard Looney promised an end to corporate reputation advertising, as part of a general rebrand (ironically). This promise, however, is completely contradicted by a package of PR materials leaked to Drilled News. This announcement of ending corporate reputation advertising, was just an example of corporate reputation advertising, showing how much bullshit is embedded in BP’s everyday criminal practice. 



The UK Government recently announced their “Friends of COP” as part of their work for COP26. At first glance it looks like the UK Government actually got this kinda right, featuring impressive individuals such as: Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim from the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad and Christiana Figueres the former executive secretary of the UNFCCC to name a few. But on closer inspection there is one individual who appears atrociously out of place: 

Sir Ian Cheshire. Non-executive Director of Barclays Plc and Chairman at Barclays UK. 

Barclays’ Record

Barclays. A bank who in just three years, from 2016-2018 provided $85 BILLION in funding to fossil fuel companies. A bank who ranks globally as the 6th biggest funder of fossil fuels since 2016. A bank ranked the top European bank for financing fracking and coal.

Seems strange that they are listed as a friend of the COP, huh? 

Previous COPs

Well we aren’t exactly surprised. Back at COP23 in 2017 the UK Pavilion at the COP was heavily sponsored by Barclays. And in 2019 Barclays enjoyed over 10 meetings with the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, while NGO’s collectively received just 3. 



So where do we start with Shell? The organisation that has a monstrous list of crimes, pollutes Scottish communities and has previously bragged about writing a very business friendly part of the Paris Agreement.

We are yet to see them playing a seriously nefarious role in the COP process but the evidence so far suggests that their dirty fingers will be in the COP pie. 

Currently, a Shell representative co-chairs the UK Government’s Hydrogen Advisory Council, alongside Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng. 

Shell are also involved in the flimsy (albeit non-governmental) Committee for Climate Change, with Shell economists contributing towards the Net Zero strategy and with one contributor to committee appointments holding shares in Shell.

Previous COPs

Shell are officially accredited to the UNFCCC under the Shell Foundation – however they also gain access to the space through the International Emissions Trading Association and the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute Ltd. These groups have brought Shell to many COPs, here is evidence of their attendance at the last three: