COP28’s climate host, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has announced plans to invest billions to help Africa move away from fossil fuels. This might almost sound impressive – if the country weren’t also gearing up to pump billions more into oil and gas.
On 5 August, the UAE declared its plan to invest in upscaling Africa’s green energy production. Speaking at the Africa Climate Summit, COP28 president sultan Al Jaber said that the UAE will provide $4.5bn USD by 2030. The investment aims to help Africa in its green energy transition.
However, as the UAE released its pledge, non-profit group Global Witness revealed its state energy company is set to dwarf this with spending on fossil fuels. Specifically, the firm will spend more than $1bn each month on oil and gas. This will send its fossil fuel investment for 2023-2030 soaring past $100bn.
Put another way, the UAE state oil company will plough over 22-times more funding into fossil fuels by 2030 than the country plans to offer Africa to aid its shift to green technologies.
COP28 presidency compromised by oil interests
Of course, this news is hardly surprising. COP28 president sultan Al Jaber heads the culprit Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) in question. Back in May, Al Jaber told a meeting of climate diplomats that fossil fuels would continue to “play a role in the forseeable future”.
Plenty of climate campaigners and organisations have understandably questioned Al Jaber’s climate credentials. Crucially, they suggest that the COP28 president’s motivations can hardly be impartial, given his role running a major fossil fuel company.
Of course, it also wouldn’t be the first time that oil and gas interests have compromised the key annual climate summit. For instance, the Canary’s Tracy Keeling reported that at least 503 fossil fuel lobbyists took part in the 2021 COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
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However, the overt proximity of this year’s COP host presidenct to a climate-wrecking corporation has drawn particular ire from the climate justice community.
Moreover, the UAE’s investment plans fly in the face of international climate efforts. Global Witness provided a damning analysis – its senior investigator, Patrick Galey, pointed out the stark hypocrisy of the conference’s host:
How he can expect to lecture other nations on the need to decarbonise and be taken seriously is anyone’s guess, while he continues to provide vastly more funding to oil and gas than to renewable alternatives. He is a fossil fuel boss, plain and simple, saying one thing while his company does the other.
In addition, Galey highlighted that during the climate summit, ADNOC will spend half a billion dollars on fossil fuels.
Carbon capture and carbon credits
In an effort to gild its climate record, the COP28 host is pushing carbon capture and storage technologies (CCS). In effect, CCS captures carbon emissions from industrial facilities and then stores them deep underground. However, this is a sketchy and nascent technology which essentially passes the buck of decarbonisation. As Keeling deftly summed up:
This is a controversial and uncertain technology that would ultimately pass the carbon problem on to future generations.
Naturally, carbon credits are also front and centre in the UAE’s plan for tackling the climate crisis. REDD-Monitor reported that the country announced plans to buy carbon credits from Africa during this week’s climate summit in Kenya.
In particular, it promised to purchase $450m worth of carbon credits from a key Africa carbon market scheme. REDD-Monitor explained that the UAE Carbon Alliance signed a non-binding letter of intent with the Africa Carbon Markets Initiative (ACMI).
Significantly, the outlet noted that one of UAE Carbon Alliance’s founding members is a company that holds an agreement with the UAE-based Blue Carbon LLC. Blue Carbon is gobbling up vast tracts of land across Africa for prospective carbon credits. And, of course, the gargantuan green-grab is a ruse for fossil fuel companies seeking to offset their emissions. Invariably, the carbon credits will simply enable corporations to pump out more oil and gas.
In July, Al Jaber called on governments to “face up to their failures”. However, in light of all this, the appeal now seems a bit rich. In short, the COP28 host’s claim that the upcoming summit will be a “milestone moment” is looking increasingly thin. Any floundering hopes that COP28 could be a turning point should be well and truly dashed.
Feature image via Junktuner/Wikimedia, cropped and resized to 1910 by 1000, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
Additional reporting by Agence France-PresseSupport us and go ad-free
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