COP28 advisor resigns amid 'disappointing' reports of UAE hosts

Top COP28 climate advisor resigns amid ‘deeply disappointing’ reports of double-dealing UAE hosts and neighbor Saudi Arabia boosting oil and planet-heating gases on the sly

  • Former Marshall Islands president quits COP28 panel over claims of UAE graft 
  • The summit has been plagued by scandal, hopes of meaningful progress are low 
  • READ MORE: Cop28 will have the biggest carbon footprint in the event’s history 

A senior advisor for the scandal-plagued COP28 climate summit in Dubai resigned on Friday, saying alleged duplicity by the UAE organizers over stopping rising temperatures were ‘deeply disappointing.’

Hilda Heine, former president of the low-lying Marshall Islands, said reports that the UAE presidency planned to use the meeting to secure oil, gas deals shattered the credibility of the talks in Dubai.

Heine’s letter was addressed to COP president Sultan Al Jaber — who was always a controversial choice for leading global climate change efforts because he also heads the UAE’s national oil company, Adnoc.

‘These actions undermine the integrity of the COP presidency and the process as a whole,’ wrote Heine, an educator and politician whose country is threatened by rising sea levels.

Hilda Heine said she was quitting COP28 because its UAE hosts were not serious about tackling climate change 

Leaders posing during a photo session at the UN Climate Change Conference COP28, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

In the letter, which was seen by Reuters, Heine said Al Jaber had to restore trust in the process by delivering an outcome ‘that demonstrates that you are committed to phasing out fossil fuels.’

Al Jaber’s spokesperson said he was ‘extremely disappointed’ by the resignation, but that the work of COP28 — including a multimillion dollar fund for low-lying island states — would continue.

Despite a slew of damaging allegations, the summit has managed to attract such luminaries as King Charles III, Pope Francis, and US Vice President Kamala Harris — even though her boss Joe Biden skipped the confab.

Environmentalists say the talks could be the world’s last chance to agree on aggressive emissions cuts and stop a catastrophic and irreversible rise in global temperatures, or at least devise a serious plan to mitigate it.

Leaked internal reports showed that Al Jaber used his position of COP28 president to raise commercial oil and gas interests with foreign officials from 15 countries in the run-up to the talks — claims he dismissed as ‘false, not true, incorrect.’

Meanwhile, the Centre for Climate Reporting revealed that the UAE’s neighboring petromonarchy Saudi Arabia is similarly talking up its green credentials while secretly cutting deals to keep oil and gas flowing for decades to come.

Critics say Sultan Al Jaber shouldn’t head both a UN climate summit and a massive oil firm 

King Charles III and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak attend the opening ceremony of the World Climate Action Summit during COP28 on December 1, 2023 in Dubai

A natural gas facility in Saudi Arabia, which has been secretly working to keep developing countries ‘hooked’ on hydrocarbons for generations  

The desert kingdom’s so-called oil demand sustainability program (ODSP) was aimed at driving up use of fossil fuel-powered cars, buses, and planes in Africa and beyond, as rich countries increasingly switch to renewables.

Critics said it was aimed at getting developing nations ‘hooked on its harmful products’ so they would continue buying hydrocarbons from Gulf exporters when people in rich countries had switched to electric vehicles.

Research this month from the Global Oil and Gas Exit List (Gogel), a public database, showed how oil and gas expansion plans by the UAE’s Adnoc and other major energy firms would only add to emissions of planet-heating gases.

Researchers also found that UAE oil and gas fields have been flaring gas almost daily, despite committing to a policy against burning extracted gas that’s not captured and sold 20 years ago, according to The Guardian.

Al Jaber’s team was earlier this year accused of ‘greenwashing’ his image, by trying to edit Wikipedia pages that highlighted his role in Adnoc.

Al Jaber was on Thursday the victim of a spoof — journalists covering COP28 received an email, purportedly from the conference organizers, saying he had resigned from his Adnoc leadership role.

Climate activists from Fridays for Future MAPA and WeSmellGas later claimed responsibility for the stunt.

Expo City in Dubai: the hub of climate change talks or more greenwashing?  

Al Jaber has allegedly used the climate summit to bag more oil and gas deals for his national petro-firm Adnoc

READ MORE: King Charles tells world leaders ‘the Earth does not belong to us’ and says his grandchildren will be living with effects of climate change in 2050 as he calls on nations to work together to boost environment at Cop28 in Dubai

More than 90,000 people were expected to attend COP28 in Dubai, which started on Thursday and is set to end on December 12.

The largest-ever climate meeting comes at the end of one of the hottest years on record, where extreme weather events linked to man-made pollution have ravaged every continent.

Britain’s King Charles pleaded with world leaders to make progress in the global climate agenda.

‘Scientists have been warning for so long, we are seeing alarming tipping points being reached,’ he said.

‘Unless we rapidly repair and restore nature’s economy, based on harmony and balance, which is our ultimate sustainer, our own economy and survivability will be imperiled.’

Diplomatic efforts to keep global temperature rises below an agreed 1.5°C benchmark are likely to be hampered by differences over the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

The UN on Friday published its first draft for a final agreement for the summit.

It laid out plans to either ‘phase down’ or ‘phase out’ the use of fossil fuels, to quit coal energy and to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030.

Also on the table is whether to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, which totaled some $7 trillion globally last year.

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