Leaked Docs Show Arab Petrostate Wanted To Use Climate Summit To Strike Fossil Fuel Deals

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  • The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a leading global oil producer and host of this year’s United Nations (UN) climate change summit, sought to use its influence and access to foreign officials as this year’s host to strike deals related to fossil fuels and state-owned energy companies, according to the BBC.
  • Some of the memos and documents indicated that Emirati officials planned to discuss potential oil and gas deals between the UAE’s state-owned oil firm, Adnoc, and countries like China, Egypt, Colombia and Germany, according to the BBC, which obtained and first reported the documents.
  • In addition to being the summit’s president, Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber is the CEO of Adnoc and the chairman of Masdar, the state-owned green energy giant.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) intended to leverage its influence as host of this year’s United Nations (UN) climate summit to make fossil fuel deals with other countries, according to leaked memos obtained by the BBC.

Leaked briefing documents and talking points showed that the UAE, one of the world’s 10 largest oil-producing countries, had plans to discuss potential fossil fuel business deals with at least 15 other nations sending delegates to the conference, known as COP28, according to the BBC. The documents show that the UAE’s COP28 team, led by COP28 President Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, arranged a slew of meetings with foreign officials ahead of the confab, many of which involved discussing potential partnerships with Emirati state-owned energy businesses for which Al-Jaber serves in crucial executive roles.

One set of talking points, meant for a meeting with Chinese representatives, addresses the willingness of Adnoc, the UAE’s state-owned oil giant, “to jointly evaluate international [liquefied natural gas] opportunities” in Mozambique, Canada and Australia, according to the BBC. Another set of talking points included in a memo for a meeting with Colombian officials describes how Adnoc “stands ready” to assist Colombia in taking advantage of its oil and gas reserves.

Additionally, the BBC obtained talking points designed for meetings with officials from 13 other nations, including Germany and Egypt, indicating that Adnoc is willing and able to partner with them to undertake fossil fuel-related projects. (RELATED: Upcoming UN Climate Confab Could Have Largest Carbon Footprint In Event’s History)

Emirati representatives intended to ask Brazil’s environmental minister for help “securing alignment and endorsement” of Adnoc’s efforts to purchase a crucial stake of Braskem, Latin America’s largest petrochemical processing company, according to the BBC. Adnoc also reportedly suggested that Emirati representatives tell delegates from Colombia and Saudi Arabia that “there is no conflict between the sustainable development of any country’s natural resources and its commitment to climate change.”

Masdar, the state-owned green energy company, is involved in talking points regarding potential business opportunities prepared in advance of meetings with officials from 20 countries, according to the BBC. Some of the delegates to whom Emirati officials intended to convey those talking points hailed from countries including the U.K, U.S., France, Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kenya, according to the BBC.

Al-Jaber is the CEO of Adnoc and the chairman of Masdar. Hosts of UN climate conferences are supposed to act impartially as they carry out their duties, as a representative for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change told the BBC.

The BBC claims to have seen email correspondence in which COP28 staff are instructed that Adnoc and Masdar talking points “always need to be included” in meeting briefing notes. COP28 staff said in response that it is “simply untrue” that personnel had been given that instruction.

Further, 12 of the countries that Emirati representatives reportedly planned to target with the Adnoc and Masdar talking points denied that commercial discussions had taken place, or that the meetings in question ever occurred, according to the BBC.

The memos and taking points appear to directly contradict the goals and spirit of COP28, where delegates are expected to pursue various strategies to cut emissions in the fight against climate change starting on Nov. 30.

Representatives for the UAE did not deny outright that COP28-related meetings had served as a forum for business discussions, instead saying that “private meetings are private” and that the country’s work relating to COP28 has been focused on delivering “meaningful climate action,” according to the BBC. Masdar hired an American public relations firm to protect the UAE’s image ahead of the conference.

Representatives for the UN, Adnoc and Masdar all did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

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