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8 December 2015 17:07

Analysis: which countries have sent the most delegates to COP21?

Robert McSweeney


Robert McSweeney

08.12.2015 | 5:07pm
COP21 ParisAnalysis: which countries have sent the most delegates to COP21?

More than 38,000 delegates are currently in Paris for the COP21 climate talks. These participants are here to represent countries, but also UN agencies, charities, campaign groups, universities, companies and media organisations.

Carbon Brief takes a look at who has brought along the biggest national delegations, with some surprising results.

Party overflow

The UNFCCC produces a provisional list of participants at the COP, which is based on how many people had registered for an entry badge as of November 27. According to this list, there are around 15,000 participants here on behalf of a particular country (or “party” in the correct UNFCCC parlance).

In addition, there are roughly another 8,000 people here to represent their countries as a “party overflow”. Carbon Brief has asked the UNFCCC for a definition, but has yet to receive an answer. However, it appears that the term describes either last-minute additions, or unofficial delegates. The names of these participants are not disclosed to the public, unlike with the official delegates. (The UK delegation details, for example, can be found on page 36 of this PDF.)

According to a Reuters article earlier this week, around 800 people are in Brazil’s delegation at the COP this year – including party overflow delegates. This means Brazil has brought “by far the most people” to the talks, the article says.

But how does this compare to the official numbers?

Carbon Brief crunched the figures from the provisional list – which doesn’t include the party overflow – to see which countries have the largest entourage.

Top of the list is next year’s COP hosts Morocco – weighing in with 439 participants – closely followed by Guinea with 398 and then France with 395. In fact, including the two largest delegations, nine African nations feature in the top 20. Brazil comes in 9th with 319.

You can see the delegation sizes across all the countries represented at the COP in the map below. The darker the shading, the more delegates that country has brought along. Mouse over the countries to see the numbers.

Largest and smallest

The table below shows the 20 largest and smallest delegations according to the provisional list.

20 largest Delegates 20 smallest Delegates
Morocco 439 Grenada 13
Guinea 398 Jamaica 12
France 395 Barbados 11
Canada 382 Brunei Darussalam 11
Republic of Korea 351 Guyana 10
Côte d’Ivoire 338 Nicaragua 10
China 326 Antigua and Barbuda 9
Peru 322 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 9
Brazil 319 Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 8
Russian Federation 315 Libya 8
Democratic Republic of the Congo 304 Saint Kitts and Nevis 7
Republic of the Congo 279 Turkmenistan 7
Burkina Faso 256 Dominica 6
Senegal 252 Liechtenstein 6
Indonesia 223 San Marino 6
Cameroon 216 Eritrea 5
Chile 195 Niue 5
Vietnam 187 Uzbekistan 5
India 182 Syrian Arab Republic 3
Ghana 181 Trinidad and Tobago 3

The top 20 alone accounts for almost 40% of all 15,000 party delegates. But while it includes heavyweight emitters, such as China, India, Indonesia, Russia and Brazil, it’s missing some other big names.

Japan comes in 21st with 168 participants, the US at 35th with 124, and Australia 93rd with 46.

The European Union is 34th with 128 participants – though, of course, individual European countries also send delegates under their own name, too. The UK, for example, is 48th in the list with 96 participants, while Germany is 38th with 114.

The smallest delegations are, unsurprisingly, mostly small states and island groups, such as San Marino (6 participants), Niue (5) and Trinidad and Tobago (3). However, there are some big countries at the bottom of the list, too, including Libya (8), Turkmenistan (7) and Uzbekistan (5).

Relative to their population size, some of these small states would find themselves at the top of the table. Tuvalu, for example, has a delegation of 42 people, but this translates to one delegate for every 253 people living on this tiny Pacific island. Niue and Palau – two more Pacific islands – have the next largest delegations relative to their population, with one participant per 298 and 464 people, respectively. At the other end of the scale, India has one delegate for every seven million of its population.

Negotiating blocs

So what does this mean for the various negotiating alliances at the COP? As Carbon Brief described in our interactive graphic on the eve of COP21, countries negotiate as “blocs”, clustering in groups according to their common positions on climate change.

Of the 19 blocs that we featured in our graphic, some represent as many as 134 countries, while others as few as four. The table below shows the size of the blocs based on the number of party delegates are at the COP (again, excluding the “party overflows”). The G77+China is still the largest bloc, representing 134 countries and over 10,000 delegates. Propping up the table, the ALBA bloc is made up of 11 countries in Central and South America, with just 74 delegates between them.

Bloc No. of countries No. of delegates
Group of 77 and China (G-77 and China) 134 10,610
African Group 54 5,951
Agence intergouvernementale de la francophonie (OIF) 50 5,240
Least Developed Countries (LDC) 48 3,935
Coalition for rainforest nations (CfRN) 52 3,832
Cartagena Dialogue 30 2,399
Like Minded Group of Developing Countries (LMDC) 25 1,892
Landlocked developing countries (LLDC) 31 1,857
European Union (EU) 28 1,688
League of Arab States 22 1,679
Umbrella Group 9 1,118
Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) 38 1,027
Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) 39 971
Brazil, South Africa, India and China (BASIC) 4 965
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) 14 943
Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC) 7 855
Environmental Integrity Group (EIG) 5 449
Central Asia, Caucasus and Moldova (CACAM) 6 201
Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) 11 74

In addition to the country delegations, there are also 638 participants from 36 UN bodies, including the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Development Programme (UNDP), 453 people from 20 “specialised agencies”, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and World Health Organisation (WHO), and 1,226 participants from 71 intergovernmental organisations, including the African Union Commission and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Along with just over 7,000 participants from non-governmental organisations and 3,704 media delegates, this makes up the total 36,000 participants attending the COP.

NB: The formatting of the UNFCCC’s documents has not allowed Carbon Brief to breakdown the NGO participants in a similar way. We will persist, though, and update the article if we are successful, or receive assistance from the UNFCCC.

Main image: COP21 plenary. Credit: UNFCCC.
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