COP28 Under Fire: UAE Oil Company Accused of Exploiting Climate Summit for Fossil Fuel Deals

An investigation by Global Witness has accused the United Arab Emirates’ state-owned oil company, ADNOC, of using the COP28 climate summit in Dubai last year to pursue significant fossil fuel deals. The report alleges that ADNOC sought nearly $100 billion (€92 billion) worth of oil, gas, and petrochemical deals in 2023, a fivefold increase on the previous year.

The leaked documents obtained by the Centre for Climate Reporting show that ADNOC sought deals with over a dozen countries during COP28, including a joint venture with BP to buy a 50 per cent stake in NewMed Energy to expand gas development and bids for a stake in Braskem, Latin America’s largest producer of petrochemicals. The report also highlights that ADNOC finalised contracts worth an estimated $17 billion (€15.6 billion) to develop the UAE’s Hail and Ghasha gas field in partnership with Russia’s Lukoil and Germany’s Wintershall Dea.

Global Witness alleges that ADNOC exploited its role as the host of COP28 to advance its commercial interests, which is seen as a conflict of interest and a betrayal of the summit’s stated goals of addressing climate change. A spokesperson for the company, however, denied any wrongdoing or misuse of the summit for business deals.

The investigation’s findings raise concerns that the incoming COP29 host, Azerbaijan, may seek to emulate UAE’s approach. Azerbaijan is also an oil-producing country and has announced plans to privatise parts of its state-run oil and gas firm SOCAR in the lead-up to the summit in Baku in November. Global Witness warns that this could lead to a situation where consecutive COPs are hijacked by the interests of big polluters and their profits, undermining the summit’s credibility and effectiveness in addressing the global climate crisis.

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