UAE plotted to use COP28 to push for oil and gas deals, leaked notes show


The world’s top climate summit has become embroiled in a hypocrisy scandal, days before the start of key talks.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) schemed to use its position as host country of the imminent COP28 United Nations climate talks to discuss oil and gas deals with more than a dozen countries, leaked documents published by the BBC show.

Briefing notes prepared by the UAE’s COP28 team for meetings with foreign governments during the summit, which starts Thursday in Dubai, include talking points from the Emirati state oil and renewable energy companies, according to documents published Monday by the Centre for Climate Reporting.

Germany, for example, is to be told that the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) — whose CEO, Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, is COP28’s president — “stand[s] ready to expand LNG supplies to Germany.”

The briefing notes for China say that ADNOC is “willing to jointly evaluate international LNG opportunities (Mozambique, Canada, and Australia).”

They also propose telling oil-rich giants Saudi Arabia and Venezuela that “there is no conflict between sustainable development of any country’s natural resources and its commitment to climate change.”

With COP28 just days away, the leaked documents have cast a shadow over the start of the crucial forum.

Zakia Khattabi, Belgium’s climate minister, told POLITICO: “If confirmed, these news reports add to the existing concerns regarding the COP28 presidency. The credibility of the U.N. climate negotiations is essential and is at stake here.”

The documents also sparked an outcry from climate NGOs.

In a statement, Greenpeace’s Policy Coordinator Kaisa Kosonen said, “if the allegations are true, this is totally unacceptable and a real scandal.”

“The climate summit leader should be focused on advancing climate solutions impartially, not backroom deals that are fuelling the crisis,” Kosonen said.

“The significant representation of EU and European countries in this list is alarming and a direct contradiction to the EU’s position to achieve a phase out of fossil fuels at this year’s COP,” Chiara Martinelli, director of Climate Action Network Europe, said in a written statement to POLITICO.

“Any deal with the UAE’s oil and gas companies is a slap in the face of the U.N. process on climate change,” Martinelli added.

The documents also include estimates of ADNOC’s commercial interests in the targeted countries, as well as an outline of energy infrastructure projects led by Masdar, the UAE’s state renewable energy company.

ADNOC’s business ties with China, for example, are valued at $15 billion over the past year, while those with the United Kingdom are worth $4 billion and the Netherlands’ stand at $2 billion.

Every year, the country hosting COP appoints a president to lead negotiations between countries. The president meets foreign dignitaries and is expected to “rais[e] ambition to tackle climate change internationally,” according to the U.N.

Home to some of the largest oil reserves in the world, the UAE has attracted criticism for appointing al-Jaber as COP president in spite of his role as chief of the country’s national oil company. Al-Jaber is also chairman of the board of directors of the national renewable energy company.

In a statement, a COP28 spokesperson said: “The documents referred to in the BBC article are inaccurate and were not used by COP28 in meetings. It is extremely disappointing to see the BBC use unverified documents in their reporting.”

This article has been updated to clarify Ahmed al-Jaber’s role at the national renewable energy company and to add comments fro, COP28 and Greenpeace.

Barbara Moens contributed reporting.





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