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UAE reportedly plots massive oil expansion despite hosting COP28

Despite its position as host of COP28 next November, the United Arab Emirates has the third-largest plans for expansion into gas and oil globally. Controversially, the CEO of its national fossil fuel company Adnoc has just been appointed as the UN summit’s president.

Seven months before the talks even get underway, COP28 has gotten off to a frankly terrible start.

Back in 2021, the announcement that the United Arab Emirates had secured hosting rights for COP28 instantly drew disapproval from climate campaigners. Among several concerns, the real elephant in the room remains that the UAE is among the 10 largest exporters of oil in the world.

The latest report from the IPCC hasn’t exactly tempered any bad feeling either, given all theoretical frameworks of staying under 1.5C of warming are apparently impossible with all existing and planned fossil fuel infrastructure.

Unfortunately, this isn’t where the concern ends either. The UAE has just recently revealed its president of the conference to be Sultan Al-Jaber, active CEO of the nation’s biggest oil and gas enterprise, Andoc – ranked 11th globally, having produced over a billion barrels in 2021.

If the red flags weren’t already plentiful enough, The Guardian claims Adnoc is now expanding its fossil fuel assembly to produce gas and oil equivalent to 7.5bn barrels, 90% of which would have to be scrapped to meet the net zero by 2050 scenario outlined by the International Energy Treaty.

If talking a good game is the only credential needed to lead international climate negotiations, Al-Jaber is in the clear. The only issue is that the internet (and human autonomy) exists.

According to the data, he is plotting to supervise the third-largest overshoot of the GHG emission limit set by the IEA: approximately 6.8bn barrels over the maximum. Reconcile that with the Al-Jaber’s March declaration that ‘oil and gas companies need to align around net zero.’

Independent experts at Climate Action Tracker have come to the obvious conclusion that UEA’s plans do not stack up with keeping warming below 1.5C. The IEA, meanwhile, calculate that the supply of oil should drop by three-quarters between 2022 and 2050.

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Given this paradoxical clash of interests, there are fervent calls for Al-Jaber to either resign his post at COP28 or turn his back on Adnoc entirely.

Global policy manager at Oil Change International, Romain Loualalen, said the situation is ‘tantamount to putting the head of a tobacco company in charge of negotiating an anti-smoking treaty.’

The head of campaigning at, Zeina Khalil Hajj, asserts that the decision risks ‘jeopardising the entire UN climate progress.’

‘We are extremely concerned that it will open the floodgates for greenwashing and oil and gas deals to keep exploiting fossil fuels,’ she warned.

If the course of COP28 isn’t reversed, just imagine the scope of protests we’re likely to see. Eco-activists have been less than convinced by delegates’ appetite for change in the past, but this is a whole different kettle of fish.

Underpinned by such a grim reality, the conference is already building up to be a complete sham.