COP28 and fossil fuels: a truth that disturbs the United Arab Emirates

La COP28 on climate ends today even...An ideal day to publish a critical article on the COPs and particularly on this 28th edition (28? Yes already!). Seventeen years after his shock documentary on climate change (An Inconvenient Truth), former American vice-president Al Gore took advantage of the COP28 platform in Dubai to drive the point home: the countries producing fossil fuels – starting with that of the host country of the COP – are the first responsible for the tragedy threatening Humanity.

His intervention in Dubai was expected. Former US Vice President Al Gore – now President of the Climate Reality Project – has been involved in climate advocacy for twenty years. An ardent defender of the exit from fossil fuels, his presence at COP28 in the United Arab Emirates did not go unnoticed. On December 3, as he did in Sharm el-Sheikh a year earlier during COP27, Al Gore set the scene on fire, singling out the United Arab Emirates for their carbon footprint.

Al Gore denounces Emirates broadcasts

Invited to speak as part of the COP28 organized in Dubai, Al Gore therefore took up his pilgrim's staff. Not without courage. He did not hesitate to denounce the ambiguity of the appointment as president of this COP of Sultan Al-Jaber, the CEO of the national oil company of Abu Dhabi, ADNOC, one of the largest gas emitting companies greenhouse effect in the world. During his conference of just over an hour, Gore mainly relied on indisputable scientific data to deplore the hypocrisy of hydrocarbon giants from the Gulf countries.

At the microphone, he detailed the information passing on a giant screen behind his back, supported by the latest data from Climate Trace, which dissects the actual GHG emissions of more than 352 million sites around the world (heavy industry, energy, agriculture, transport, etc.) thanks to a network of more than 300 satellites. The result is clear for the United Arab Emirates, with the country even seeing its emissions jump by 7,54% between 2021 and 2022: “ Here are major sites of greenhouse gas emissions, then shows Al Gore. All these are significant emission sites in the United Arab Emirates. The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) still claims to have no methane or other emissions from its oil and gas transportation. But in fact there is! We can even see them from space! » At ease in front of the public, Al Gore allowed himself several barbs towards the organizing country and the comments of the president of COP28 who had assured that the Emirati installations did not emit greenhouse gases, methane in mind: “ Why can we see leaks from space if there aren't any? ", quipped the speaker, whose environmental commitment was noted in 2006 with the famous documentary An Inconvenient Truth (An inconvenient truth). He already denounced the “time bomb” on which we are sitting.

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That was 17 years ago.

Just after his speech at the COP28, Al Gore hit the nail on the head at Reuters and the Associated Press. For the former American vice president, Humanity staked its future in Dubai : " The hydrocarbon industry is much more effective at capturing politicians than it is at capturing emissions. And today, she captured the COP process itself: she abused the public trust by appointing the CEO of one of the largest – and least accountable – oil companies in the world, as president of the COP (editor’s note: Sultan Al-Jaber). With regard to the general public, this is a breach of trust in the process by which major decisions on the future of Humanity are made. The danger facing Humanity is in fact so serious that this COP constitutes a test: it will either be a success or a failure. If there is an agreement to phase out fossil fuels, it will be a success. Otherwise, it will be a failure. » Coincidence or coincidence this Sunday, December 3, the sky of Dubai – usually azure blue – was covered in a thick haze of atmospheric pollution…

Scientific questioning

The main accused did not really like the speech of the former American vice-president, who since the beginning of the 2000s has become one of the heralds of the fight against global warming. Boss of the flagship of the Emirates hydrocarbons (ADNOC), Sultan Al Jaber refutes any pessimistic discourse: “ I will in no way subscribe to alarmist discussions. Show me the road map for an exit from fossil fuels that is compatible with socio-economic development, without sending the world back to the age of caves. » Even stronger, according to the Emirati leader, it would not exist “ no scientific proof that a gradual exit from fossil fuels would limit warming to +1,5ºC by the end of the century », in accordance with the Paris Agreements of 2015. However, all UN bodies are sounding the alarm on the subject. During COP28, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), made his comparison: “ Addressing the climate crisis requires addressing the role of fossil fuels, in the same way that we cannot discuss lung cancer without acknowledging the impact of tobacco. » QED.

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This position of Al-Jaber also caused a jump several representatives of the scientific community. " It's alarming to read that the chairman of the UN climate talks – Sultan Al-Jaber – is questioning the science on the need to end fossil fuels, lamented Cansin Leylim Ilgaz, associate director of the global campaign for the climate advocacy group Scientific report after scientific report, from the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC), the International Energy Agency (IEA) and others, has demonstrated that there is an urgent need to reduce emissions by 42%. by 2030 compared to 2019 levels, and to completely phase out coal, oil and gas by 2050 if we are to stay below 1,5°C. » Same story for Romain Ioualalen, head of Oil Change International, for whom “ COP28 President's science-denying statements are alarming and raise deep concerns about the presidency's ability to lead UN climate negotiations at a time when leadership and clear vision are most needed ».

Direct conflicts of interest

Beyond the vision, it is the current discourse that has become inaudible. Ahead of COP28, just before the opening of the UN climate conference in Dubai, independent investigative journalists from the Center for Climate Reporting and the BBC published chilling revelations. According to these unpublished documents, Sultan Al-Jaber did not seek to move forward in disguise, and relied on his position as president of COP28 in order to win new contracts for his oil company, ADNOC, in particular with Colombia, Brazil, China or Canada. Not to mention the accreditations granted to nearly 2500 fossil fuel lobbyists to attend COP28.

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Shadows on the board that Al Gore did not fail to point out in his interview, on the sidelines of his presentation in Dubai. “ We can solve the climate crisis, stop rising temperatures, start the healing process by phasing out oil and gas. But I know they don't want to do it. […] Sultan Al-Jaber is a nice guy, an intelligent guy. I've known him for years. But he is in a direct conflict of interest, did not hesitate to criticize the former vice-president of the United States. And I'm not complaining or being nitpicky: this goes to the very heart of the question of whether or not the world will have the capacity to make intelligent decisions about the future of Humanity. Honestly, when I look at the massive expansion plan where they have to increase their oil production by 50%, increase their gas production [at the end of COP28], I ask them: Don't you take us for fools ? »

The question is indeed worth asking.

Debate on the forum of climate change

1 comment on “COP28 and fossil fuels: a truth that bothers the United Arab Emirates”

  1. It's still maddening to only write an article exclusively against Sultan Al-Jaber, repeating the words/writings of Al Gore, just as forgetful of the fact that the United Arab Emirates are perhaps the most advanced countries producing fossil fuels towards the diversification of their economies, an essential prelude to their future exit from the production of fossil hydrocarbons.
    Have you never heard (or read) of the considerable role of the MASDAR entity for around fifteen years, also chaired by the one you are grilling?
    What is the point of stigmatizing one of the most determined and dynamic countries/individuals?

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