The truth on Big Oil’s stranglehold on COP summits


Essentially the most surprising factor concerning the EU’s defence for letting an oil baron steward the subsequent UN local weather summit is that it shocked anybody. The transfer adopted a time-honoured UNFCCC Convention of the Events (COP) custom of feting VIP polluters whilst international emissions soar to new information.

The 30-odd yr historical past of COP summits has coincided with the buildup of greater than half of all atmospheric greenhouse gases emitted since 1751. In nearly yearly of its existence, the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Conference on Local weather Change) has overseen a brand new emissions file — and 2023 seems like it will likely be no totally different.

  • COP26 in Glasgow: some 636 fossil-fuel lobbyists obtained delegate passes to the next COP in Sharm el-Sheikh — greater than got to the ten nations most impacted by international heating (Photograph: Daniel/Flickr)

But these COPs nonetheless enable the worst polluters and their authorities enablers to bask underneath a inexperienced highlight, radiating a misunderstanding of progress and local weather motion. Some 636 fossil-fuel lobbyists obtained delegate passes to the final COP in Sharm el-Sheikh — greater than got to the ten nations most impacted by international heating.

Fossil-fuel corporations had hyperlinks with 90 p.c of the sponsors at COP27, a summit publicised by Hill and Knowlton, which additionally spins for ExxonMobil, Shell and different fossil corporations.

On this context, the appointment of Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the CEO of the UAE’s Abu Dhabi Nationwide Oil Firm (ADNOC) to guide proceedings at COP28, is about as surprising as a lobbyist’s bar tab.

Fossil-fuel corporations have lengthy set the tempo, scale and nature of the local weather motion that governments and regulatory authorities have felt in a position to take, particularly in Brussels.

Shell efficiently proposed the EU’s headline local weather goal in 2014, whereas BP received a tug of struggle with the EU over legal guidelines to control energy plant air pollution and tar sands, after threatening an oil business “exodus” in 2013. Complete, Iberdrola, E.On and Enel even took majority positions in Europe’s renewable power associations, and used them to weaken the wind and photo voltaic business’s ambitions for brand new mandates.

“Credulous” is thus one of the best ways to explain EU Inexperienced Deal chief Frans Timmerman’s declare that al Jaber’s position within the Masdar renewable power agency balances his fossil gas pursuits.

Masdar, which is part-owned by ADNOC, says it hopes to supply 100GW of recent clear power by 2030 however there’s nothing new about oil corporations hedging on renewables with aspect investments whereas they wait to see what regulatory atmosphere their core operations face.

Masdar is concentrating on manufacturing of as much as a million tonnes of “inexperienced” hydrogen by 2030, in alliances with BP, Engie and others.

However watch to see if this color modifications. ADNOC solely declares itself a “chief” in blue hydrogen, carbon seize and “low carbon pure gasoline” — applied sciences that reconcile a assured future for fossil fuels with the UAE’s pledge to realize web zero — on paper not less than.

Cooking the books, cooking the planet

Nonetheless, the UAE’s emissions slicing efforts are “critically inadequate” based on Local weather Motion Tracker, a inexperienced watchdog, and won’t obtain its web zero objective.

The factor with cooking the carbon accounting books is that it may also cook dinner the planet. The Worldwide Power Company says there may be no new oil or gasoline fields if the world is to stop catastrophic local weather change but ADNOC plans to develop each its gasoline and oil operations.

Why is that this tolerated? One senior EU official advised me 10 years in the past the underlying drawback is that fossil gas corporations, appearing in live performance, could be able to tanking the worldwide financial system — and regulators understand it.

In actuality, COPs have lengthy adopted a mannequin set by the contemporaneous (if now moribund) Oslo peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Confronted by a robust vested curiosity with no intention of reforming itself, the UNFCCC additionally fetishised a “course of” that sidestepped a key impediment (CO2 emissions) with interminable discussions that allowed polluters to greenwash themselves whereas increasing their belongings.

The standard riposte that ‘the present should go on as a result of what would occur if it did not?’ more and more has to face a counter-factual of: ‘What is going to occur if the present continues?. The reply is that we’ll go on watching because the world hurtles towards local weather tipping factors, from which there could also be no return.

Reform of this terrifying mess is not going to come from enlightened oil execs.

It’s true that the EU is not greatest positioned to complain about al Jaber, having made a former chair of two oil corporations its final local weather commissioner however not doing so may flip COP28’s “international stock-take” of emissions progress because the Paris local weather summit of 2015 right into a farce.

Ditto the EU’s push for a “part down” of oil and gasoline.

The unshocking fact is that Brussels will solely act in its (and our) greatest pursuits whether it is pushed from exterior — as evidenced by the Inexperienced Deal, which adopted pupil strikes, Extinction Riot protests and a inexperienced electoral wave. Our collective survival could depend upon how far and how briskly such strain can once more be dropped at bear.

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