Calls for COP to ban fossil fuel lobbyists

African activists at the United Nations COP27 climate summit have called for an end to the expansion of fossil fuels on the continent, highlighting the large share of people the industry has left without electricity and mired in poverty.

Nigerian climate campaigner Friday Barilule Nbani - who is attending the talks for the first time - said his community in the Niger Delta does not want any more fossil fuel projects.

He said the projects have left a litany of toxic oil spills and tainted water.

Nbani's appeal came on the anniversary of the death of his uncle, writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa - one of nine men hanged in 1995, after a flawed trial, for protesting against oil giant Shell's exploitation of the Niger Delta.

"The polluters in Nigeria should get out from this COP," Nbani, of environmental group GreenFaith Nigeria said in an interview after a protest at the conference centre that called for fossil fuel firms to be excluded from UN climate summits.

"They are destroying the environment - and anything that destroys the environment destroys life, and we are dying in masses.

"They are the ones delaying (climate) action. They have their own agenda."

Nbani called for the talks to unlock urgent finance for climate-vulnerable countries such as Nigeria, which has been hit hard by flooding in recent weeks.

"What we want is action now," he said.

Climate campaigners have pitched themselves at the talks against African governments that believe they should be allowed to use more gas - the least-polluting fossil fuel - to develop their economies and provide power to 600 million Africans who lack access to electricity, at least through this decade.

The demonstration coincided with new research released by human rights groups showing 636 fossil fuel lobbyists - affiliated with some of the world's biggest oil and gas firms, both public and private - are registered at the COP27.

The analysis of the UN provisional list of named attendees by Corporate Accountability, Corporate Europe Observatory and Global Witness said the number - from a total of about 42,400 registered government and civil society delegates - was an increase of more than 25 per cent from COP26.

The groups said 29 countries have fossil fuel representatives among their national delegations at the talks, with the United Arab Emirates - the host of next year's COP - bringing the most at 70, followed by Russia with 33.

The African nations with fossil fuel or electricity industry executives on their government teams at COP27 include Angola, Chad, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Libya, Mauritania, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda.

Others come with industry associations and advocacy groups.

"There's been a lot of lip service paid to this being the so-called African COP but how are you going to address the dire climate impacts on the continent when the fossil fuel delegation is larger than that of any African country?" Philip Jakpor, of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, said.

Wael Aboulmagd, Egyptian ambassador and special representative of the COP27 president, told journalists he did not have figures to show how many fossil fuel lobbyists are at COP27.

He said corporate representatives of high-emitting sectors such as cement and steel will speak at "Decarbonization Day" on Friday, to take place alongside the formal negotiations.

"This is where we want to show best practices," he said.

He said participating companies must be able to demonstrate what they have achieved to cut emissions and how they will meet pledges in the future.

"The context isn't going to be to allow anyone to come and pretend they are doing something," Aboulmagd said.

There is growing pressure on the organisers of the UN talks not to allow fossil fuel executives and their supporters to attend the climate summits, with more than 450 organisations signing up to a call to bar them from the conferences.

They are demanding the UN climate secretariat and COP host nations, which change annually, protect the integrity of the negotiations by defining clear conflict of interest policies.

They said the proposal has the backing of governments that collectively represent almost 70 per cent of the world's population.