February 22, 2024

The host of the upcoming COP28 climate summit, the UAE, planned to use the talks to strike oil deals, the BBC reports

The host of the upcoming COP28 climate summit, the United Arab Emirates, planned to use its role as an opportunity to try to strike oil and gas deals with other countries, CBS News partner network BBC News reported on Monday.

The BBC has obtained leaked briefing documents showing that COP28 President Dr. Sultan al-Jaber, planned to discuss the commercial interests of oil and gas with 15 countries during meetings with foreign officials ahead of the global climate conference on November 30.

Al-Jaber is also the CEO of the UAE’s state oil company, Adnoc, and its renewable energy company, Masdar. It is the job of the chair of the UN-sponsored climate summit to encourage countries to be as ambitious as possible in their climate goals. As part of the preparations for this year’s conferenceal-Jaber organized meetings with governments around the world.

Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber speaks during the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition
The chairman of the upcoming COP28 climate change summit, Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, speaks at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition on October 2, 2023.

RYAN LIM/AFP via Getty Images


The documents obtained by the BBC showed prepared objectives for Al-Jaber’s meetings, as well as information about the officials he would speak to. For more than twenty countries, the documents contain talking points compiled by the oil company Adnoc and the renewable energy company Masdar.

Discuss commercial opportunities

Ahead of its meeting with Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva, talking points Adnoc provided to Al-Jaber said the company had “identified Brazil as a strategic investment company” and that it was in the early stages of a deal to try to expand the company to take over. another petrochemical company there, reports the BBC.

“Securing coordination and support for the deal at the highest level is important to us,” the interlocutors said. “Question: Your support in facilitating a conversation with the relevant minister.”

Before his meeting with China, Adnoc’s talking points to Al-Jaber laid out the possibility of a new deal on liquefied natural gas, saying the country was “willing to jointly evaluate international LNG options (Mozambique, Canada and Australia) .”

To the oil-producing countries Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, Adnoc al-Jaber is reported to have advised, saying: “There is no conflict between the sustainable development of any country’s natural resources and its commitment to climate change.”

Notes had also been provided by renewable energy company Masdar ahead of Al-Jaber’s meetings with 20 countries, including the United States, the BBC reported.

In his notes for al-Jaber, Masdar said the US was “a key market” and that the renewable energy company “aimed to increase its presence in the US through near-term acquisitions.” It also said it hoped “for the government’s support” for certain approvals.

It was unclear how often Al-Jaber raised Adnoc and Masdar’s talking points during his meetings with foreign officials. A State Department spokesperson told the BBC that US climate envoy John Kerry never mentioned Masdar or commercial activities during his meetings with al-Jaber.

In its response to the BBC, the UAE team did not deny that COP28 meetings were being used for business discussions, saying that “private meetings are private.” It declined to comment on what was discussed, saying its work focused on “meaningful climate action.”

Violating norms

The standards of conduct for COP presidents (COP stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’, a series of global summits on climate) are set by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which told the BBC that “the obligation of impartiality” cardinal principle’.

COP presidents are expected to act without bias, prejudice, favoritism, arbitrariness, self-interest, preference or deference, based strictly on sound, independent and fair judgement, the UNFCCC told the BBC. “They are also expected to ensure that personal views and beliefs do not jeopardize or appear to jeopardize their role and functions as a UNFCCC official.”

Someone is walking past a
A person walks past a ‘#COP28’ sign advertising the upcoming climate summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on October 1, 2023.

AMR ALFIKY / REUTERS


Michael Jacobs, a professor at England’s Sheffield University who focuses on UN climate politics, told the BBC that the COP28 team’s actions looked “breathtakingly hypocritical.”

“I actually think it’s worse because the UAE is currently the custodian of a United Nations process aimed at reducing global emissions,” he said. “And yet, in the very same meetings where it is apparently trying to pursue that goal, it is actually trying to make side deals that will increase global emissions.”

Members of Congress, along with members of the European Parliament, had written a letter in May to President Biden, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell, to call for the removal of al-Jaber. as COP28 president.

“The decision to appoint the CEO of one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies as president of COP28 – a company that recently announced plans to add 7.6 billion barrels of oil to its production over the next few years, fifth largest increase in the world – there is a risk that negotiations will be undermined,” the letter said. “As common sense reforms to help restore public confidence in the COP process are in serious jeopardy with an oil company executive at the helm, we respectfully submit that other leadership is needed to ensure that COP28 is a serious and will be a productive climate summit.”

“The chances for real progress at COP28 were badly damaged early this year when an oil company CEO was appointed to lead the negotiations,” former Vice President Al Gore said in response to the BBC report. “And now investigative journalists have confirmed some of the worst fears of those who criticized that absurd deal with the shocking news that the presidential candidate has used the meetings he has organized with countries around the world to sell more oil and gas . Using international climate talks as leverage to shore up support for pumping more oil and gas at a time when we urgently need to phase out fossil fuels is – to say the least – utterly appalling.”

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