Guardian COP28 Circus: Our Last Hope is an Arab Oil Sheik who Plans to Increase Production


by Eric Worrall at

… A diplomat from one developed country said: “It could not be much worse.” Another said: “You could not make this stuff up.” …

The window is closing’: Cop28 must deliver change of course on climate

With six months until UN summit in Dubai, can its oil executive president bring unwilling countries into line?

Fiona Harvey Environment editor Fri 2 Jun 2023 21.00 AEST

“Cop28 must deliver strengthened emissions reduction targets, and a commitment to peak global emissions by 2025,” he said. “[There must be] a plan to turbocharge the clean energy revolution, and a commitment to phase out fossil fuels. And a meaningful agreement on how to scale up finance, both public and private, to support developing nations to decarbonise their economies – moving from the billions to the trillions.”

That is the theory. But even the most optimistic supporter of Cops may find their bright hopes ebbing in the face of Cop28.

Any Cop would be challenging under such dire circumstances. For Cop28, there is an added twist. It will take place in Dubai, hosted by the United Arab Emirates, a leading oil and gas producer. And the official chosen to preside over the summit – Sultan Al Jaber – is the chief executive of the country’s national oil company, Adnoc, which is planning a big expansion of production capacity.

A diplomat from one developed country said: “It could not be much worse.” Another said: “You could not make this stuff up.”

Jaber’s appointment in January was greeted with disbelief and dismay by climate campaigners and experts around the world. “If I were asked how to make Cop28 a success, I would not put the head of a fossil fuel company in charge of organising it,” said Friederike Otto, a senior lecturer in climate at the Grantham Institute, at Imperial College London. “I would not invite lobbyists from fossil fuel companies. I would try to see that everything was done to remove fossil fuels from the energy supply globally as soon as possible.”

At least you can’t criticise COP for lack of innovation – who could have predicted they would put an oil sheik in charge of a climate conference?

Clearly there is only one path forward if the oil executive fails to deliver. Put a climate skeptic in charge. I hereby offer my services to organise the next COP conference after this one, COP29. For a modest eight figure inflation adjusted salary, and a budget to match, I promise to do at least as well as the Arab oil guy.

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