A scandal involving the host nation of this yr’s United Nations local weather summit forged a darkish cloud over the annual negotiations days earlier than they kicked off in Dubai.
On Monday, the Centre for Climate Reporting and the BBC reported on leaked paperwork obtained from a whistleblower that purportedly present Sultan Al Jaber — the controversial president of the 28th Conference of Parties, or COP28, and the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company — deliberate to leverage his position as head of the summit to dealer oil and gasoline offers with different nations and increase fossil gas exports from the United Arab Emirates.
In different phrases, a robust oil govt — somebody who’d already come below hearth for seemingly obtrusive conflicts of curiosity in presiding over the summit — apparently noticed the local weather convention as a possibility to extend home manufacturing of planet-warming fossil fuels at a time when scientists are desperately warning that the world is running out of time to stave off catastrophic local weather impacts.
While the revelation has rattled the worldwide local weather group, it didn’t occur in a vacuum. Instead, the reported backdoor dealings are the becoming icing on the cake of worldwide local weather negotiations that many local weather and environmental activists argue have been hijacked by the very trade most accountable for the disaster.
Rachel Rose Jackson, director of worldwide local weather analysis and coverage at watchdog group Corporate Accountability, advised HuffPost that “climate action has long been strangled by Big Polluters as well as those that represent their profit-driven interests.”
“This interference is not specific to any one COP or one presidency,” she stated in an e mail. “For as long as the UNFCCC has existed, Big Polluters have been allowed to roam the halls unchecked, even though we know that they will go to great lengths to protect their bottom line ― profit. The impact is clear; we need look no further than the decades-long failure of COPs to curb greenhouse gas emission and keep fossil fuels in the ground.”
As HuffPost reported following COP25 in Spain, fossil gas pursuits have lengthy maintained an outsize presence on the talks. Oil, gasoline and coal firms have been among the many largest sponsors of earlier conferences. Industry representatives and lobbyists roam the halls alongside delegates, scientists and environmentalists whereas trade commerce associations host events and cocktail receptions. An analysis by Corporate Accountability and different teams discovered that 636 fossil gas lobbyists registered for final yr’s COP in Egypt — up from 503 one yr prior.
Oil giants have even boasted about taking part in a key position in writing parts of the Paris local weather settlement, as The Intercept reported in 2018.
Activists blame this trade’s affect and interference for the restricted progress world governments have made in curbing emissions. And they’ve identified that the dynamic on the U.N. local weather talks stands in stark distinction to negotiations of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which tobacco firms and trade lobbyists are prohibited from attending.
“We cannot expect meaningful change until we address the corporate capture of climate action at its source and end the ability of Big Polluters to write the rules of the climate action we so urgently need,” Jackson stated.
Not solely is that this yr’s local weather summit more likely to be flush with fossil gas representatives, however its president, Al Jaber, is the highest govt of the UAE’s state-owned oil firm — a job he has up to now refused to step down from whereas spearheading the convention.
It is unclear how profitable Al Jaber and the UAE have been in leveraging their host position to their very own financial benefit. According to briefing paperwork obtained by the Centre for Climate Reporting, the crew deliberate to debate their enterprise pursuits with almost 30 international nations, together with the U.S. At least one nation adopted up, the paperwork present.
Al Jaber has denied the reporting, calling it “false” and “an attempt to undermine” his work as COP28 president. A COP28 spokesperson downplayed the allegations with out disputing them, telling the Centre for Climate Reporting that it “is public knowledge” Al Jaber holds quite a few positions aside from his position because the summit’s president and that “private meetings are private, and we do not comment on them.”
The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, which oversees the annual negotiations, didn’t instantly reply to HuffPost’s request for remark.
The perceived conflicts of curiosity, already entrance and heart previous to Monday’s bombshell report, have unsurprisingly ballooned. The summit kicks off Thursday in Dubai amid renewed requires Al Jaber to step except for both his position as COP28 president or as CEO of ADNOC.
Ann Harrison, local weather adviser at Amnesty International, stated in a statement that this week’s revelations “solely gas our issues that COP28 has been comprehensively captured by the fossil gas foyer to serve its vested pursuits that put the entire of humanity in danger.”
She stated, “The appointment of the chief executive of one of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies to lead COP28 was always a brazen conflict of interests which undermines the meeting’s ability to reach the outcome we desperately need.”
Christiana Figueres, former govt secretary of the UNFCCC, wrote in a post to X, previously Twitter, that Al Jaber had been “caught red handed” and referred to as the paperwork “the ‘Volkswagen 2015’ second for the #COP28 Presidency,” referring to the automaker’s emissions scandal.
“At this point we might as well meet inside an actual oil refinery,” Joseph Moeono-Kolio, lead adviser to the marketing campaign for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, told The New York Times.
That’s not removed from what allegedly performed out forward of the U.N. summit. Whistleblowers advised the Centre for Climate Reporting that the crew representing the UAE on the talks has repeatedly held conferences at oil big ADNOC’s headquarters.
“The COP28 Presidency has been consistent in our position that it does not make sense to exclude the people who understand the most about the current energy system from conversations about the energy transition,” a COP28 spokesperson advised CCR.
The assertion mirrored one which Patricia Espinosa, a former govt secretary of the UNFCCC, made in response to criticism of fossil gas trade affect at COP25 in Spain: “There is no way we will [make] this transformation without the energy industry, including oil and gas.”
Many creating nations, advocacy teams and elected officers all over the world see issues fairly otherwise, arguing that vital local weather progress will solely be achieved when the U.N. takes steps to restrict fossil gas pursuits from influencing its proceedings.
Last week, dozens of different elected officers from the U.S. and Europe, together with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Manon Aubry, a member of the European Parliament, renewed their calls for the UNFCCC to strengthen guidelines to guard the worldwide local weather talks from company interference.
“We continue to have profound concern that current rules governing the UNFCCC permit private sector polluters to exert undue influence on UNFCCC processes,” the lawmakers wrote. “At the end of this month, world governments will gather in Dubai for COP28. It is essential that we seize the opportunity to take actionable steps to address and protect climate policy from polluting interference by adopting concrete rules that limit the influence of the fossil fuel industry and its lobbyists in the UNFCCC decision-making process.”
A new rule at this yr’s convention requires fossil gas lobbyists and all different contributors to declare their affiliation or decline to take action publicly — a transfer that advocates celebrated as a long-overdue step towards better transparency and accountability. In gentle of this week’s revelations about Al Jaber’s purported backdoor dealings, Whitehouse and different Democratic senators referred to as on the U.N. to take extra motion.
“This bombshell reporting on secretive sideline deals to boost oil and gas production — and fossil fuel emissions — raises alarms about the integrity of the entire summit,” he and Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) stated in a joint statement Tuesday. “For this COP to reach the outcome our planet so desperately needs, the public needs greater transparency into the often-clandestine fossil fuel influence pervasive at COPs past.”