A new investigation by the international organization Global Witness (GW) reveals that the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), chaired by Sultan Al Jaber, who headed the 28th Climate Summit (COP28), used the presidency to sign oil and gas agreements.

According to GW research published Wednesday, coinciding with International Environment Day, Adnoc “sought nearly $100 billion in oil, gas and petrochemicals-related deals” while Al Jaber chaired the climate talks in Dubai.

The date also coincides with talks at the 60th meeting of the subsidiary bodies of the Climate Conference taking place from this Monday until Friday in Bonn, attended by some 6,000 participants and preparatory to COP29 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Global Witnees says in a statement that the revelations “appear to disprove Al Jaber’s denials that the company used the climate talks to promote its commercial interests, after briefing papers were leaked instructing Adnoc to discuss fossil fuel deals with states at COP28.”

Al Jaber will hand over the COP28 presidency to Azerbaijan next November.

The study reveals details of the top 20 international fossil fuel agreements that Adnoc reached in 2023.

According to Global Witness, those agreements were negotiated with entities domiciled in or owned by Azerbaijan, the host of COP29, recent COP hosts Egypt (COP27) and the UK (COP26), and Brazil.

The potential value, the release says, of $100 billion from these 20 deals “is five times greater than the value of the deals they pursued the previous year and 40 percent greater than the previous four years combined,” this shows “a huge increase” in commercial activity in the year the United Arab Emirates (UAE) hosted COP.

Global Witness senior researcher Patrick Galey has noted that there was “widespread shock” when the UAE, a “petro-state,” was handed the reins of the world’s most important climate talks.

“It was hard to imagine how brazen they would be in carrying out activities that actually subverted the purpose of the COP,” he says, arguing that “COP28 appears to have been shaped for the benefit of their state oil company.”

In Galey’s view, “COP28 was hijacked by fossil fuel industry interests, which were not content simply to block or paralyze genuine climate policy, but seized the opportunity to pursue more climate-destroying oil and gas deals.”

Even more worryingly, “COP28 seems to have provided other petro-states with a sinister handbook to copy and paste from,” he continues.

And he warns that as the United Arab Emirates passes the baton to Azerbaijan, they are looking at the possibility of back-to-back COPs “being hijacked for the interests of big polluters and their profits, as the world comes dangerously close to exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius” in temperature.

Categorized in: