Post-COP28 Party in the Petrostates

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    Most of the 100,000 delegates and attendees at COP28 in Dubai were likely there for the right reasons, and will have worked extremely hard towards creating a positive outcome for the planet and the most vulnerable countries.  It would be too easy for the notoriously cynical Laundromat to sit here picking holes in the final statement and bemoaning the lack of clarity and urgency in the agreement.  There are indeed positive elements in the recommendations and some more climate cash has been promised, albeit not nearly enough.  After 28 years of dithering a COP has also finally dared to mention the blitheringly obvious need to transition away from fossil fuels.  Result!

    Relief in Riyadh

    Unfortunately, any efforts to go with a positive spin on COP28 were rudely interrupted by all the alarms going off in Laundromat Central when Saudi Arabia’s energy minister expressed his great satisfaction with the outcome.  In an interview with Riyadh based news channel Al Arabiya, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said: “The issue of immediate and gradual disposal (of fossil fuels) has been buried.”  The energy minister was pleased that countries would remain free to determine their own suitable pathways to cleaner energy, and that the COP28 deal would have no detrimental effect on Saudi Arabia’s ability to sell its oil.

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    Experienced negotiators usually consider that the sign of a successful compromise is when both sides are still grumbling afterwards.  Prince Abdulaziz seems far too pleased, telling Al Arabiya: “The pharaoh methodology of dictating things has been buried, and so people are free in their choices.”  He may also have put COP28 president Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber in a spot of trouble.  Al Jaber had been at pains to portray himself as a serious man of climate action, determined to achieve an unprecedented global consensus in Dubai.  Not only was he embarrassed by various press revelations during the event, but he may not be particularly comfortable with Prince Abdulaziz publicly sharing his country’s easy experience of dealing with the COP28 hosts: “There was a perfect cooperation between us, they did not leave us, we were always constantly coordinating and consulting, and we were given priority that I don’t think I have ever seen it in any such conference.”

    Delight in Doha

    The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais was also very satisfied with the COP28 statement.  Speaking at the joint meeting of OPEC and the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Doha, Qatar on 13 December, Al Ghais hailed what he called the consensual and positive outcome of COP28, adding: “Both of our organisations must work together along with other key industry stakeholders to help promote investment-friendly policies.  The fact is, without adequate levels of investment, the future of our industry is in jeopardy.  Part of this effort entails ensuring a balanced narrative on energy transitions and, when necessary, correcting misguided messages related to both hydrocarbon fuels and our industry.”

    In the interests of balance and fairness, the Laundromat could spend time picking out the positives from the COP28 joint statement and take an optimistic view that despite the inherent loopholes and lack of hard targets and obligations, countries will nonetheless be compelled to follow the “call” to do the right thing and keep us with a 1.5-degree pathway.  Sadly, the unreserved delight of the petrostate with the world’s largest fossil fuel expansion plans is a clear and undeniable sign that COP28 was an abject failure.

    Image courtesy of luisqb from Pixabay
    Richard Tyszkiewicz
    Richard Tyszkiewicz
    Richard has over 30 years’ experience in the international investment industry. He has worked closely with major Nordic investors on consultancy projects, focusing on the evaluation of external asset managers. While doing so, Richard built up a strong practical understanding of the challenges faced by institutional investors seeking to integrate ESG into their portfolios. Richard has an MA degree in Management and Spanish from St Andrews University, and sustainability qualifications from Cambridge University, PRI and the CFA Institute.
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