UAE Accused of Leveraging Climate Summit for Oil Agreements

The United Arab Emirates, set to host the critical UN COP28 climate summit, is facing scrutiny after BBC reports revealed plans to discuss fossil fuel deals with various nations during the summit.

by Faruk Imamovic
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UAE Accused of Leveraging Climate Summit for Oil Agreements
© Getty Images Entertainment/Bryan Bedder

The United Arab Emirates, set to host the critical UN COP28 climate summit, is facing scrutiny after BBC reports revealed plans to discuss fossil fuel deals with various nations during the summit.

Mixed Messages in Climate Talks

The UAE allegedly planned to use its hosting of the UN climate talks as an opportunity to negotiate oil and gas deals with up to 15 nations.

This revelation has raised questions about the country's commitment to unbiased and selfless action, as expected by the UN body responsible for the COP28 summit. The documents, obtained by independent journalists at the Centre for Climate Reporting in collaboration with the BBC, were reportedly prepared for meetings with at least 27 foreign governments.

They included proposed talking points for various nations, suggesting collaboration on fossil fuel projects. For example, one point for China mentioned the UAE's state oil company, Adnoc, evaluating international LNG opportunities in countries like Mozambique, Canada, and Australia.

Similar propositions were prepared for other countries, including Germany and Egypt.

Conflict of Interest at a Crucial Climate Summit

The UAE's approach to these high-level meetings appears to clash with the overarching goals of COP28, which is to facilitate global discussions on tackling climate change and limit the long-term global temperature rise.

Prof Michael Jacobs of Sheffield University, an expert on UN climate politics, described the UAE's actions as "breathtakingly hypocritical," highlighting the contradiction between being the custodian of a process aimed at reducing emissions and simultaneously pursuing deals that could increase them.

The UAE team did not deny using the COP28 meetings for business discussions and stated that "private meetings are private." They emphasized their focus on "meaningful climate action" but declined to comment on specific discussions.

COP28, due to start on November 30 in Dubai, is expected to draw 167 world leaders, including prominent figures like the Pope and King Charles III. The summit is crucial for setting targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030 from 2019 levels, as recommended by the UN's climate science body.

The UAE's hosting of COP28 and its reported pursuit of fossil fuel deals underscore a significant challenge facing global climate negotiations: aligning national interests with the urgent need for collective action against climate change.

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