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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Unveiling the United Arab Emirates’ Dual Role at COP28

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) strategically positioned itself as the host of the UN climate talks, COP28, to explore potential oil and gas deals, as revealed by leaked briefing documents obtained by the BBC. The documents expose plans to engage in discussions related to fossil fuel agreements with representatives from 15 nations.

Diplomacy and Business: A Delicate Balance

The UN body overseeing COP28 emphasized the expectation that host nations would act without bias or self-interest. However, the leaked documents suggest otherwise, shedding light on the UAE’s intention to leverage the summit for business talks. The UAE team did not deny this approach, stating that “private meetings are private” while emphasizing their commitment to “meaningful climate action.”

Fossil Fuel Agendas: Unveiling the Plans

The leaked documents, prepared for meetings with at least 27 foreign governments, included proposed talking points aimed at fostering fossil fuel deals. For instance, discussions with China centered on Adnoc, the UAE’s state oil company, expressing willingness to assess international LNG opportunities in Mozambique, Canada, and Australia. Similar talking points were tailored for 13 other countries, indicating the UAE’s interest in collaborating on fossil fuel projects.

Commercial Opportunities in Renewable Energy

In addition to fossil fuels, the UAE had a parallel agenda focusing on commercial opportunities for Masdar, its state renewable energy company. Briefing notes outlined talking points for meetings with 20 countries, including major players like the UK, United States, China, and Saudi Arabia.

COP28: A Crucial Global Platform

COP28, hosted by the UAE in Dubai, is a pivotal moment for global climate talks, with 167 world leaders in attendance, including the Pope and King Charles III. These talks are crucial for addressing climate change, aiming to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C. However, achieving this goal requires substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Dual Roles and Ethical Dilemmas

The preparation for COP28 involved ministerial meetings arranged by Dr. Sultan al-Jaber, the COP28 president, who also serves as the CEO of Adnoc and Masdar. The leaked documents highlight potential ethical concerns, as talking points from Adnoc and Masdar were deemed essential in briefing notes, raising questions about the impartiality expected from COP presidents.

UNFCCC Standards and Concerns

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) sets standards for COP presidents, emphasizing the obligation of impartiality. Doing business during the COP process contradicts these standards, risking a collapse in trust. Experts express concern that pursuing commercial interests during COP could jeopardize the summit’s success.

Conclusion: Navigating Complexity

In the midst of these allegations, the success of the UAE’s leadership at COP28 will ultimately be judged by the outcomes achieved. Balancing the demands of diplomacy and business on a global stage requires careful consideration of ethical standards and the overarching goal of meaningful climate action.


  1. Q: What is COP28? A: COP28 is the 28th UN Climate Change Conference, hosted by the United Arab Emirates in Dubai, bringing together world leaders to address climate-related issues.
  2. Q: Why is COP28 significant? A: COP28 is crucial for discussions on climate change, aiming to limit the global temperature rise and encourage substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Q: What are the ethical concerns raised in the article? A: The article highlights concerns about the dual role of the COP28 president, also the CEO of Adnoc and Masdar, engaging in business discussions during the summit.
  4. Q: How does the UNFCCC define the standards for COP presidents? A: The UNFCCC emphasizes the obligation of impartiality, expecting COP presidents to act without bias or self-interest, strictly based on fair judgment.
  5. Q: What is the potential impact of pursuing commercial interests during COP28? A: Pursuing commercial interests during COP28 raises concerns about compromising the summit’s integrity and undermining the global effort to address climate change.

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