UAE plans to have it both ways as Cop28 climate summit host

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From Tallbloke’s Talkshop

January 8, 2023 by oldbrew

Work this one out. Hydrocarbon production is booming in the UAE, due to high demand. Its Dubai International Airport is the world’s busiest by passenger numbers. Next year it will host a conference that in theory at least wants to knock all that on the head, because… climate etc. At COP27 it fielded dozens of oil and gas lobbyists.
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If there was a sign the United Arab Emirates is taking its role as host of the next UN climate talks seriously, the 1,073 delegates it registered to attend the Cop27 summit in Egypt would be it, says Climate Home News.

The Persian Gulf petrostate came out in force in Sharm el-Sheikh with the second largest delegation in the history of climate summits, including 70 oil and gas lobbyists – a flavour of what is to come.

The UAE takes on the UN climate talks presidency from the Egyptians at the end of November next year, when it hosts Cop28 on the site of the Dubai Expo.

The Emirates are seeking international clout as the Gulf’s most proactive nation on climate action. It was first in the region to set a 2050 net zero goal. And at Cop27, it became the first to announce absolute emission cuts, instead of from a hypothetical business-as-usual baseline.

But its plan includes expanding oil and gas production, which is incompatible with limiting global warming to 1.5C [Talkshop comment – according to some climate theorists]. The UAE has pitched its role as providing the world with reliable and low-carbon intensity oil and gas for decades to come.

“The UAE is known as a responsible supplier of energy and will continue to play this role as long as the world needs oil and gas,” president Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan told the leaders’ summit at Cop27.

Two-pronged approach

In its climate diplomacy, the UAE is pursuing a two-pronged approach: an aggressive campaign to fund thousands of megawatts of clean energy at home and overseas and even greater efforts to boost its oil and gas production.

It is on the defensive, as the case for leaving fossil fuels in the ground gets more vocal. In Sharm el-Sheikh, more than 80 countries pushed to extend language on phasing down unabated coal power to oil and gas, but petrostates blocked it from formal negotiation. The issue is not going away.

“The Emiratis will find it difficult to deal with a fast-moving debate on fossil fuels, given their economy is structured around oil and gas,” Glada Lahn, a senior research fellow at London-based think tank Chatham House. “Sharm showed that the tide is turning. What’s missing are the great examples of diversification – the UAE could definitely elevate its work on that.”

A federation of seven emirates and home to nearly 10 million people, the UAE is the world’s eighth biggest oil producer in absolute terms and the second biggest per capita.

The discovery of commercial oil in the late 1950s bought enormous riches to Abu Dhabi, the largest of the emirates, where almost all of the country’s oil is pumped.

Today, the UAE says it has the world’s sixth largest crude oil reserves and seventh largest gas reserves.

It has made efforts to diversify the economy away from oil – grasping the need to do so earlier than most of its neighbours. Tourism is a key growth sector. Dubai is becoming a business and financial services hub.

Yet, more than half of government revenues still depend on the oil and gas industry, according to Carbon Tracker.

Full article here.

The Dubai Expo site (Photo: Dennis Sylvester Hurd/Flickr)