Human Lives Human Rights:
The COP28 United Nations climate summit in the United Arab Emirates has granted access to thousands of fossil fuel lobbyists and top executives from multinational oil companies. This move, allowing representatives from an industry reaping substantial profits for a select few while jeopardizing the global climate, distorts the fundamental purpose of a meeting designed to safeguard the environment and people from further damage.
Comparing it to excluding arms dealers from peace talks, the invitation of climate-wrecking entities to provide solutions for the harm they caused, especially when many plan to expand fossil fuel production, exacerbates the threat to the rights of billions of people and contributes to the escalating climate crisis.
The selection of Sultan Al Jaber, the head of a major oil and gas company, as the summit chair, further raises concerns as he questions the scientific consensus supporting the need to phase out fossil fuels. This choice creates an accommodating atmosphere for industry lobbyists at the expense of addressing the urgent climate issues.
Exacerbating the situation, ExxonMobil’s CEO, Darren Woods, is presenting unverified technical solutions like carbon capture and storage as answers to the climate crisis. Despite Exxon’s long-standing awareness of the environmental impact of fossil fuels, the company persisted in expanding its oil and gas operations, highlighting the erosion of COP’s credibility.
With the number of fossil fuel lobbyists at COP28 reaching a record 2,456, a significant rise from the previous year, concerns about the limitation of freedom of expression and assembly at the summit have emerged. The rights of the fossil fuel lobby to present their case have been prioritized over addressing the impending climate chaos and human rights violations. Urgent resistance against fossil fuel lobbyists is crucial, not only at the current summit but also in future meetings.
A study by the Kick Big Polluters Out coalition, including Global Witness, Corporate Accountability, and Corporate Europe Observatory, reveals a record-breaking 2,456 lobbyists from the fossil fuel industry at COP28, compared to 636 the previous year. Rights groups are urging Sultan Al Jaber to resign from his role as CEO of Adnoc, the UAE state oil and gas company, to ensure impartiality in chairing COP28. Human rights advocates emphasize the necessity of a swift, equitable, funded, and permanent phase-out of all fossil fuels as a top priority at COP28.