The United Arab Emirates seems aimed to leverage its role as the host of the COP28 for oil and gas deals. According to leaked documents from the BBC, the UAE plans to discuss fossil fuel deals with 15 nations. It raises concerns about potential conflicts of interest. The UN body responsible for COP28 emphasized the need for hosts to act without bias or self-interest. The UAE team did not deny using COP28 meetings for business talks. UAE states that “private meetings are private.”
The leaked documents have shed light on UAE’s COP28 team’s proposed meetings with at least 27 foreign governments. It included talking points related to fossil fuel opportunities. For instance, the documents mentioned discussions with China about evaluating international LNG opportunities. Further, it expresses Adnoc’s (UAE’s state oil company) readiness to support Colombia in developing its fossil fuel resources. Similar talking points were also prepared for other countries. This indicates Adnoc’s interest in collaborating on fossil fuel projects.
The UAE also outlined commercial opportunities for its state renewable energy company, Masdar. The meetings with various countries include the UK, United States, France, Germany, China, etc. COP28, hosted by the UAE in Dubai, is a crucial summit for global climate talks, with 167 world leaders expected to attend.
The leaked documents also raised questions about potential breaches of conduct expected of COP Presidents. Presidents are required to act impartially and without self-interest. The briefing notes included information for COP28 president Dr. Sultan al-Jaber. He is also the CEO of Adnoc and Masdar. Despite the BBC’s revelations, the COP28 team emphasized its independence and commitment to meaningful climate action.
During climate talks, critics, including climate experts, expressed concerns about the UAE’s apparent pursuit of business deals. They describe it as hypocritical and potentially detrimental to global emission reduction goals. There are expectations that COP28 will contribute to limiting global temperature rises to 1.5°C. However, this controversy adds complexity to the ongoing climate discussions.
As the conference unfolds, the success of the UAE’s leadership will be closely scrutinized. Further, the COP28 president’s ability to deliver ambitious climate outcomes will also be monitored. Experts emphasize the need for COP presidents to uphold impartiality and avoid compromising their roles for personal or commercial interests.