Meet your COP host

70,000+ delegates from around the world will descend on Dubai later this month for the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (aka COP28).

Dubai may seem like an odd choice. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is:

  • ⛽ The world’s eighth-largest oil producer 
  • 🛢️ The world’s tenth-largest gas producer, and
  • ♨️ A top ten emitter per capita.

Plus COP28’s president, Sultan Al-Jaber, also heads up the UAE’s state-owned oil company, which announced a $150B expansion last year.

So first, a technical answer to “why the UAE?”: the COP host normally rotates among the five UN regional groups. This year it’s the Asia-Pacific’s turn, and that group (which includes the Middle East) put forward the UAE. 

Intrigue’s take: And now the intriguing answer:far from a bug, Al-Jaber has sought to make his fossil fuel connections a feature of this year’s summit.

His logic: cutting emissions means cutting oil and gas, and the oil and gas industry needs to be at the table to help manage that process. As a petrostate, the UAE argues it’s the right consensus-builder to steward this.

The problem: the industry already has a seat at the table. Quite a few seats, in fact (industry reps outnumbered all but one country last year). So critics say the UAE is not so much managing the energy transition, as slowing it.

Al-Jaber and the UAE have a bit to prove.

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