Documents Show UAE Sought to Use Climate Summit for Fossil Fuel Deals

Nov 30, 2023

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is set to host the world’s largest climate conference. It’s called COP28. But the Middle Eastern country has sought to use the meeting in Dubai to make deals for its oil companies. That's according to documents leaked to news outlets this week.   

The leaked records include plans for the UAE to lobby for fossil fuel deals with 15 countries at COP28. COP28 opens today. But news of the UAE's plans has cast a shadow over the conference. The documents were first reported on by the BBC and the Center for Climate Reporting. The records came from an unnamed source.     

Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber is the head of the UAE’s Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). He strongly denied the reports. He says he never saw the leaked papers.  

“These allegations are false,” al-Jaber said Wednesday.     

But critics say the reports show two big problems with COP28. One is that they say the head of a fossil fuel company should not lead a climate summit. Amnesty International climate adviser Ann Harrison said that appeared “ever more like a fox is guarding the hen house.” She called on al-Jaber to step down.  

The second problem is the massive presence of oil lobbyists at these meetings. A lobbyist is paid by a business to persuade decision makers to do things that favor certain interests. A report released last week showed that industry lobbyists have been at UN-sponsored climate talks 7,200 times in the past two decades.   

The leaked records include talking points to make ADNOC deals around the world look good. But they also promote the UAE’s renewable energy company (Masdar). They highlight projects that reduce methane and other climate measures.     

Photo from Reuters.

Reflect: How might the presence of industries like oil and gas at climate conferences impact decisions made to address environmental concerns?

Which idea is highlighted throughout the story? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. the importance of renewable energy
b. the challenges posed by technological advancements in climate talks
c. the concerns about fossil fuel deals and industry influence in climate conferences
d. the significance of historical documents in environmental discussions
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