COP28 for climate is at the heart of the debate, hosted in the United Arab Emirates

Published on January 06, 2023

The appointment of Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry of the United Arab Emirates and CEO of the national oil company Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), as the president of COP28 on climate, has caused a flood of criticism. The summit at the end of the year is of particular importance, as it should draw up an overall assessment of action, particularly on climate.

Climate COP28, held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from November 30 to December 12, has already been subject to much criticism. But the appointment of its president added fuel to the fire. It was Sultan Al Jabir who was appointed Minister of Industry and Advanced Technologies, President of the government-owned renewable energy company Masdar, but above all, CEO of the national oil company Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc).

In recent speeches, he has formally advocated a $600 billion increase in annual fossil fuel investment by 2030 because, he says, “We must move forward with pragmatism“. In addition, the United Arab Emirates sees itself as a “consensus builder” for COP28. Its company Adnoc thus logically plans to increase daily oil production to 3.5 million barrels by 2027.

1000 delegates at COP27

For the United Arab Emirates, hosting COP28 on Climate is an opportunity to exercise its soft power and restore its reputation for taking climate issues into account. according to a survey conducted by watchmanthe country hired public relations and lobbying firms several months ago to specifically promote its role as a future host, an unusual move that surpasses the promotional efforts of past host countries.

Back at COP27, the UAE showed its strength by sending its largest delegation, over a thousand people, including 70 oil and gas lobbyists, the second largest delegation in the history of the COP. The country is also one of the few countries to have updated its national climate contribution before the summit (MDG). And one of the first in the region to set a goal of carbon neutrality for 2050.

However, the Climate Action Tracker rates its efforts as “grossly insufficient” and leading to more than 3°C of warming. The country’s energy strategy is still largely based on “clean coal” (with CCS) and gas. Very close to Egypt, which presides over COP27, they have succeeded in blocking the progress of negotiations on phasing out of fossil fuels, especially while promoting the still very expensive and immature CO2 capture and storage (CCS) technologies.

“A lot can happen when you’re in the spotlight”

COP28 on climate is a particularly important deadline because it should lead to the first global assessment of global commitments under the Paris Agreement. In addition, a new funding target as well as a global adaptation target should be adopted. The pressure to eliminate all fossil fuels will also be great. But Kavita Jadhav, director of research at Wood Mackenzie, points out that “a lot can happen when you’re in the spotlight”.

“The UAE and the wider Middle East may have a eureka moment similar to the US Deflation Act, which promises a boom in hydrogen, CO2 capture and storage and solar power. Adnoc and the UAE will continue to grow low-carbon investments, which It will lead to other oil producers in the Middle East.”he says.

This is not the first time that the host country of the COP has been criticized for its climate. Poland, which is heavily dependent on coal, has already organized three COPs in 2008, 2013 and 2018. Qatar also hosted the COP18 in 2012. The selection process for COP presidencies and meeting venues varies among the five regional groups. And the candidates are not stuck with each other…

Concepcion Alvarez @conce1

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