Thursday, November 30, 2023
Web Desk

COP28 conference begins in oil-rich UAE with focus on future of fossil fuels

Ex-UN climate chief says COP28 talks 'no place to boost fossil fuels' over reports that UAE plans to strike oil, gas deals

Web Desk
A man in traditional Emirati clothes attends the first day of U.N.s COP28 climate summit, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November 30, 2023.
A man in traditional Emirati clothes attends the first day of U.N.'s COP28 climate summit, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November 30, 2023. 
  • Caretaker PM Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar in Dubai for COP28.
  • UAE strongly denies reports of fossil fuel deals.
  • Ex-UN climate chief calls for transparency around fossil fuel influence.

The pivotal 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) is set to begin today in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates amid reports that the country may try to use its position as host to strike oil and gas deals.

Representatives including government officials, business leaders and civil society groups from about 200 countries will attend COP28 to push for aid and effective action to tackle the amplifying consequences of global warming.

Additionally, Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar reached Dubai on Wednesday where to attend the summit.

The prime minister was received by UAE Minister for Justice Abdullah Sultan bin Awad Al Nuaimi, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UAE, and the Pakistani diplomatic staff at Dubai's Al Maktoum Airport, according to the Prime Minister's Office.

The COP28 brings the world together at a critical moment for global transformative climate action.

'COP28 talks no place to boost fossil fuels'

The ex-climate chief of the United Nations, Christiana Figueres, said she was "giving up hope" on fossil fuel firms being part of the solution to warming.

With the UN climate negotiations expected to focus on the future of fossil fuels, Figueres is concerned over reports that the UAE plans to use its position as the host to strike oil and gas deals.

Figueres further stated that she had previously believed that the world's polluting coal, oil, and gas industries should have a say in these negotiations.

"I'm actually giving up hope on that," she said, adding that it was "unforgivable" that the industries funnelled the bumper profits of recent years into shareholder dividends and lobbying efforts — rather than invest in renewable energy technologies.

She also called for more transparency around fossil fuel influence from the COP presidency, which is held by UAE's Sultan Al Jaber, who is also head of the Emirates state oil and gas company.

Reacting to BBC reports of leaked documents suggesting the UAE planned to exploit its role in organising the climate conference to strike fossil fuel deals, Figueres said if true the claims would mark a "serious breach of the responsibility of the COP presidency".

"It is not a meeting to advance the interests of the oil and gas industry," she told PBS News in a linked interview hosted by the organisation Covering Climate Now.

"This is a convening of all the governments in the world to advance the protection of the planet... precisely because of the negative consequences of mostly the operation of the oil and gas industry."

Jaber strongly denied the BBC reports Wednesday, saying they were "false, not true, incorrect".

Global climate negotiations largely avoided mentioning fossil fuels for decades, until Glasgow's COP26 agreed to "phasedown" unfiltered coal power and the "phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies", AFP reported.

Momentum has grown since a pledge to transition from fossil fuels, with a surge in renewables and electric vehicles boosting optimism for achieving climate goals.

The 2015 Paris deal, involving nearly 200 nations, aimed to limit global warming to "well below" two degrees Celsius since the preindustrial era and preferably a safer threshold of 1.5°C.