Getting Arrested at COP28

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    Stockholm (NordSIP) – There are just 90 seconds left on the doomsday clock, and the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has left us in no doubt whatsoever about the incredible urgency of the climate crisis.  It is therefore quite surprising to learn that you could be thrown in jail if you upset anyone from the local oil company at the upcoming COP28 climate conference in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

    This absurd situation was brought to light during a recent conference in Abu Dhabi.  Delegates at the 2023 Forecasting Healthy Futures Global Summit were warned not to criticise Islam, the UAE government, corporations or individuals.  The guidance also stated: “Protesting is illegal in the United Arab Emirates and any instances of disruptive protesting will be handled by the local authorities.”  Not only is COP28 being held in the UAE under these circumstances, but the individual nominated to preside over the event is none other than Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc).  Current and ex-Adnoc employees have also been seconded to join the COP28 organisation.

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    Arsonists in charge of fire safety

    Oil industry data from German NGO Urgewald and published in the UK’s Guardian newspaper reveal that the UAE plan to expand their oil and gas production by 7.6 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BBOE) over the coming years.  This means that they would overshoot the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 2050 net-zero climate scenario by 6.8 BBOE.  Only Qatar and Saudi Arabia are likely to beat them in that unfortunate race.  The United Nations and the IEA are clear: new fossil fuel projects are entirely incompatible with the goals of the Paris climate agreement.  The UAE’s podium place in this race to destroy the planet should surely disqualify them from hosting this crucial global climate gathering.  Coupled with the aforementioned curbs on freedom of expression, it makes a complete mockery of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process.


    Some might argue that an effective global response to the climate crisis can only be achieved by involving all parties, including oil producers.  This might hold if there were genuine signs of a concerted effort by private sector and state-owned oil producers to implement credible transition strategies.  NordSIP’s Laundromat was a fly on the wall at a recent conference organised and hosted by Saudi Arabia in Miami, USA.  While there was some mention of the Kingdom’s ongoing investment in renewable energy, much of the debate focused on reductions in Scope 1 and 2 emissions from the oil and gas production process, along with talk of dubious fuel additives designed to magically reduce Scope 3 emissions from combustion engines, and carbon capture technology.  There was little or no mention of the looming dangers of climate change, and a lot of unashamed “bigging up” of fossil fuels.

    Whatever you do, don’t mention the oil!

    The involvement of the fossil fuel lobby has been increasing with each COP.  The UN needs to put its foot down and regain control of the climate conversation.  The time for being polite to fossil fuel producing countries – including the likes of the USA, Canada, UK and Norway – is over.  We need to swiftly move beyond the surreal absurdity of the phasing down of fossil fuels being a taboo subject in COP statements.  It should also be possible for COP delegates to directly challenge Adnoc and others over their oil and gas expansion plans without risking arrest.  A Mountain of evidence shows that large oil producers and their funders (hello World Bank!) cannot be trusted to drive the low-carbon transition, despite gigantic greenwashing budgets bombarding us with claims to the contrary.  We cannot let them lead us into the abyss.  Where’s Greta when you need her?

    Image courtesy of 4711018 from Pixabay
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