The BBC, in a hard-hitting Question and Answer session with itself
asks: “Does a Climate Summit Need 25,000 People?” And replies to itself: “Yes it does,” because time zones and technological challenges make an online COP impossible for countries with limited resources. You can hardly expect the leader of some small island state threatened with disappearance in some obscure time zone to get up at some unearthly hour to plead for his share of those hundred billion dollars on Zoom, can you?
Well that accounts for the representatives of 150 countries, but what about the other 24,000 odd delegates? Who are they, anyway?
There’s nothing resembling a list of participants at the COP26 site, nor at the UNFCC site, so I googled “COP26” + “Provisional List of Participants,” and turned up a list of PLOPs (as they’re known in UN circles – really) for every COP except COP26. A link temptingly headlined “World Religious Leaders and Scientists Make pre-COP26 Appeal” turned out to date from 1992 – 29 years in advance. The combination of science and religion can clearly perform miracles of prevision unknown to General Circulation Models.
Both Google and Bing publish this message though, right after the PLOP for COP14:
People Also Ask: What was the background of the COP 26? When does the final list of participants come out? The official document containing the final list of participants will be issued on Friday, 13 December 2019.
followed by a link that doesn’t work.
Now, that date was the final day of COP25 in Madrid, so I suspect the provisional list they’re talking about is in fact the Madrid one, which can be found at COP 25_Provisional List of Participants.pdf – known to its friends as COP25PLOP – and very interesting it is, all 1,216 pages of it.
It starts with a list of official national delegations of course. I won’t bore you with all of them, but here are some that caught my eye.
Burundi sent 32 delegates including M. Fidèle Ndikumana, a Church of England Climatologist.
Cape Verde (pop. 480,000 ) sent 27 delegates, of whom 10 were from the Movimento Eco-Feminismo, including Mr Cleber Semedo, the Movimento’s Coordenador do Projecto EmpowerMen
The Maldives sent a modest 13 delegates, 9 of whom were from the Climate Change department of the Ministry of the Environment. This low key presence contrasts with their Copenhagen shenanigans, when they conducted a cabinet meeting in diving suits and chose Mark Lynas as a delegate. He subsequently published a scoop in the Guardian, revealing the confidential discussions with the Chinese, thereby convincing the Middle Empire that western diplomats were no more to be trusted now than Lord Macartney in the 18th century, thus setting back Chinese co-operation on CO2 reduction for decades, which will no doubt cause the deaths of millions of climate victims, according to all the best climate science estimates. Mark Lynas is now a professor at Cornell.
The Marshall Islands (population 58,000, with another 4,300 living in Springdale, Arkansas) on the other hand sent 28 delegates. Successively occupied by the Spanish, Germans, Japanese and Americans the Marshalls are best known for the presence of the Bikini atoll where the first of 67 American atomic bomb tests was conducted. They’re still waiting for the 2 billion dollars compensation promised by the Nuclear Claims Tribunal.
Judging by the names of their delegates, the Marshalls must take the prize for the most racially integrated state on earth. There were Ms Hilda Heine, President, Mr Carlsan Heine, Special Assistant to the President, Ms Angeline Heine-Reimers, Ms Wei Yu Hong, Ms Jane Ishiguro, Mr. Chowdury Jahan-Zeb Shams, Mr. Jahan-Zeb Chowdhury, Mr. Warwick Harris, Ms Doreen Debrum, Ms. Kathy Neien Jetnil Kijiner, Mr Clarence Samuel, and Ms Francesca Mingrone, assistant.
It’s always interesting to check the origins of delegates of small island states. For example while eight of the Kingdom of Tonga‘s 42 delegates came from Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications, others came from all over the place. For example David Sattler, Professor of Psychology, and Mr. Rhys Samuel Logan, Visual Journalist, were from Western Washington University; (Professor Sattler is an expert in post-traumatic stress and coping, or possibly COPing;) there were seven delegates from Yale University, and four from Climateworks Australia, while Ms Jacob and Mr Macfarlane were from Jacob & Macfarlane, architects.
But What about the NGOs? The term is interpreted very widely in COP language, since it includes universities and industrial and commercial organisations of all kinds. Thus, almost anyone who has a job of any kind can become a delegate by belonging to the right kind of association – hence the presence of nine executives or directors of Shell Petroleum scattered among different NGOs.
The Air and Waste Management Association sent three of its directors, Ms Michele Gehring, Mr Jack Broadbent, and Mr Jeffry Muffatt
The Bellona Foundation sent 24 delegates, including their President and Chairman of the Board. You haven’t heard of them, but they’re based in Oslo, employ 57 people, and are big in financing environmental projects. They say: “The Bellona Foundation is an independent non-profit organisation that aims to meet and fight the climate challenges, by identifying and implementing sustainable environmental solutions.” Well, so are we, so is Extinction Rebellion, so was the Una bomber, so is Prince Charles. so what makes you different?
“…the partners we aim to work with in our partnership programs are companies that are strategically placed in relation to (Norwegian) industries.”
R-i-g-h-t. So it’s all about fish. Or oil. Or fish oil. Or concreting over the fjords for hydropower, or some similar way of saving the planet.
Oh, two of their delegates are from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. That’s an American charity originally set up to fight Ebola, help war orphans and children in Africa infected with AIDS etc., which inexplicably started to syphon off some of its billions to fighting climate change. And now they’re in the Norwegian oil business.
The BHP Billiton SaskPower Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Knowledge Centre Inc. doing business as International CCS Knowledge Centre sent two delegates. Since solving the CCS problem would change the face of the world in an instant, it’s only right that they should send their top experts, namely their Vice President for Strategy & Stakeholder Relations and the Head of Communications & Media Relations.
The Brazilian Tree Industry sent two delegates. I bet they got a rapturous welcome.
The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation sent 20 delegates, including the two Mss Ng, (Did anyone spot the Mss Ng in Action in Madrid? Probably not.) Ms Regina Valdez of Scientistswarning.org and Ms Cynthia de Wolf of SharpMarketing. (Again the crossover between religion and science, with marketing thrown in as a bonus.)
Chant du Guépard dans le Désert (Song of the Leopard in the Desert) sent two delegates
Chatham House, 4 delegates. I always thought Chatham house was a gentlemen’s club for planning World War Three. Well, so it is. So it is.
The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation sent 2 delegates (plus three others signed on with other NGOs)
Germanwatch sent 10 delegates. I’ve come across them before. They’re not as sinister as they sound, because they only watch other Germans. Not to be confused with Swisswatch.
Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute Ltd sent 7 delegates of whom two were from Shell
Renewable Energy representatives seemed few and far between. I spotted eight delegates from Wind Europe and just one from the World Wind Energy Association, representing Sahara Wind.
Feminist organisations were well represented, however. The Women’s Environment and Development Organisation Sent 51 delegates, while Rural Women Energy Security Ltd/Gte sent Mr Yayha Saleh Ibrahim, Research Coordinator, Mr. Muhammad Tanko, Board Member, Mr. Bassey Gabriel Udofia, Program Manager – oh, and Ms. Nafisat Alimi Abubakar, Head of Secretariat.
I’m not sure where to place the Mom Loves Taiwan Association (10 delegates)
The UK Youth Climate Coalition Limited is back in action I see, with nine delegates. I wrote a couple of articles about them ten years ago, tracing their post-activist careers as far as I could via LinkedIn etc. I might do it again. A Google search can be difficult in the case of e.g. Sarah Dobson, but it should be easy enough to follow the careers of Mr. Thiago Bopp Resnitzky and M. Matsipaya Bepkoti Beppakretjti Waura Txucarramãe. I bet he’s got a good strong password.
Among the tiddlers with a minor presence, suffice to mention the Libyan Wildlife Trust (6 delegates) the Met Office Hadley Center, 15 delegates (shame they can’t spell their own name right) and the University of East Anglia / Tyndall Centre, (six delegates.)
Now we come to the big boys:
Friends of the Earth International sent 55 delegates, Greenpeace 85, and the WWF 80 delegates. (Interestingly, some highly active activist organisation sent very few delegates. The Rockefeller Foundation sent one, and the Sierra Club just five.)
However, delegates from the Green Giants were far outnumbered by the 176 delegates from the International Chamber of Commerce, the 142 from the International Emissions Trading Association, and the 149 from the International Trade Union Confederation. No wonder they’re hopping mad about greenwashing. No matter how big they get, the employers’ organisations and the traders get bigger.
And almost as big is the organisation representing the Workers of the World. What? Didn’t trade unions go out with flat hats and warm beer? Aren’t they happy with the prospect of good jobs sticking plastic cladding on walls and solar panels on roofs? What are they doing coming overseeing our high level negotiations? Get back to your ferrets and backgammon.
Bet they won’t be coming to Glasgow though. They won’t be able to afford the hotels for a start.
The Noel Coward song captures the COP mood beautifully, but may I respectfully suggest that the Divine Comedy cover version, complete with video, brings it to life.
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Some attendees to COP25 had massive egos.
The delegations of the governments of Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Montenegro & Portugal; plus African Development Bank, Climate Action Network Canada felt the need to (generally) fly their official photographers to Madrid.
Geoff, thanks with this. There is some marvellous fun to be had examining the lists of delegates, because when you look at some of the people attending, you realise the massive extent to which it is just a huge jamboree, with loads of people attending just to go to a party, not to do anything useful (even assuming that COPs do in principle do something useful).
Over at Bishop Hill, I had some fun with the list of delegates to COP23, on a discussion thread set up by tomo, which I largely hijacked (with his kind forbearance). It started to warm up at page 3 of the thread:
Maybe the list for COP 26 isn’t available ahead of the event because at the UN they realise the fun pesky sceptics will have with it if we get our hands on it while the whole jamboree is still going on.
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Continuing the lists of freeloaders – COP24:
“Leading the table at COP24 is Guinea with 406 delegates. This is 86 fewer than they sent last year, but still puts it in first place with 169 more people than the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in second. In third are the hosts of this year’s COP – Poland – with 211 delegates.”
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I have had it in my mind to write about the pointlessness of most COP attendees so thanks to Geoff for covering it here. I also wanted to write about the total number of attendees from COP1 to now.
(I couldn’t find the numbers for #2 and #5, and #26 is not yet confirmed [25-30k no doubt]).
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The Workers of the World may well be the hilariously nick-named “Wobblies”.
The Industrial Workers of the World is a linked group of socialist/anarchist/syndicalist activists. It’s actually quite large and active, being pretty much the only remaining place for the anarcho-syndicalists to hang together without being mobbed by Marxists.
I put Workers of the World in capitals as a nod to the Wobblies, who were very important a hundred years ago and more – a grassroots working class anarchist movement with more than two million members – fancy that. Trump would have loved them.
People forget that ideas like racial equality and votes for women were once the preserve of the loony left. I suspect the International Trade Union Confederation belongs to the sensible, moderate left – you know, the ones who thought that governments democratically elected by the people would be sure to make intelligent decisions about important subjects like energy policy.
As Joe Public points out above, Africans were there in massive numbers, whether by necessity or nepotism matters little. I was surprised by the number of Chinese NGOs, (China Association for NGO Cooperation, China Association for Science and Technology, China Dialogue Trust, China Green Carbon Foundation, China Science and Technology Exchange Center, China New Energy Chamber of Commerce, China South Low Carbon Academy, Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.) It’s a great opportunity for the Chinese to get together with their fellow members of the developing world and discuss how to carve up the trillion dollars that’s supposed to be coming their way in the next decade.
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The PLOP has arrived:
39,509 participants, so Glasgow is top of the COP PLOPs, with 9k more participants than the previous record-holder, Paris.
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Vinny, thanks for the link. I will study this later. Should be plenty of fun to be had with it.
Vinnie, I’ve updated my figure accordingly. I have 36,276 for Paris, a difference of 3,233. That figure comes from UNFCCC and includes parties, observers, and media.
Jit, I got my 30k for COP21’s PLOP from here:
I perhaps should have mentioned that article when I spotted it a couple of days ago because it includes participant estimates for COPs 2 and 5.
Carbon Brief’s bar chart looks v similar to yours but some numbers vary a bit. Not sure why. I did have look at some of its numbers and found that they matched official IPCC tallies but can’t remember which numbers or where I found the tallies.
Mark, the only fun thing I’ve found so far is that British royals are listed in a slightly odd way:
This is probably because the IPCC is trying to track an increase in female participation at COPs. All (I think) of the listed participants are assigned a ‘Mr’, ‘M’, ‘Ms’, ‘Mme’ etc honorific even when they are dukes, duchesses, doctors, professors or whatever. (That prolly won’t go down well at Stonewall. Criminally binary! Ban the IPCC!)
Dunno if that increase has continued, but here are some tallies from the new PLOP:
(There’ll be other honorifics I haven’t searched for but the total will probably still be a long way short of 39,509. That’ll be because PLOPs don’t name all of their provisional participants. Something to do with shared badges or summat.)
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JIT, that graph of numbers attending successive COPs looks a bit like a hockey stick….
It’s probably unfair of me to pick on one small country at random, but I note that Palau (which according to Wikipedia has an estimated population of less than 20,000) seems to have sent around 0.15% of its population to Glasgow.
On not picking on small countries:
Palau, at 121 sq miles, is a tiddler, but with a high standard of living, measured by income, and the world’s largest carbon footprint per head, “mainly from transport,” despite only having 22 miles of paved roads and a speed limit of 25 mph. “Rising sea level presents a major environmental threat,” as does “extensive sand and coral dredging” and “toxic waste from fertilizers and biocides.”
Like the Marshall Islands, Palau is basically a US protectorate, using the US dollar and relying on US aid. The green blob loves micro-states for the same reason as the US government does. They’re cheap and easy to turn into votes in international bodies.
The population of 11,000 has declined 11% in ten years, despite the recent arrival of some Uyghurs previously detained in Guantanamo. There are also 500 Bengali Moslems, presumably to keep the Uyghur terrorist suspects company and give them someone to proselytise. The population is 20% mainland Asian, so it’s not surprising that there are several Chinese and Japanese sounding names among their delegation. It’s striking though that all four Chinese-sounding delegates are from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It sounds as if the racial set up is like that in my old “Teach Yourself Malay” book, which contained phrases like:
– Mr Wang has a new car.
– Mr Patel is mending his bicycle.
– Mohammed’s house has a hole in the roof.
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Have you seen Gabon’s list of attendees? 125, I think. It’s difficult to imagine what they can all be doing that’s of any use.
The world is awash
of Green Climate Fund