Former US vice-president and co-founder of Climate TRACE Al Gore has criticised the UAE, host of COP28, for misleading the public about its policies and strategies for phasing out fossil fuels. 

Gore presented data from Climate TRACE, a GHG emissions tracker, at COP’s main plenary hall, which showed that the UAE’s GHG emissions rose by 7.5% in 2022 from the previous year. Climate TRACE tracks and detects GHG emissions using satellites, machine learning and other technologies. 

Compared with the 1.5% rise in emissions in the rest of the world, the data shows a clear and much larger difference between the two figures. 

According to Climate TRACE’s data, China’s electricity production and other energy consumption, India’s electricity production and the US’s oil and gas output have contributed the most to the rise in world emissions since 2015. 

“Leaders from the public and private sectors can now do what has never been possible before. They can look clearly at the causes of the climate crisis all the way down to the individual source. They can pinpoint where to take action almost immediately,” said Gore. 

Nearly half of the spike in global emissions since 2015 has come from a small number of sectors in just three nations. The US and Iranian oil and gas industries, along with India’s electricity generation, contributed 17% of the global increase in emissions in 2022, it said. 

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“With this inventory at our fingertips, there’s no longer a valid excuse for anyone – businesses, governments or otherwise, to turn a blind eye to the work that must be done to slash emissions significantly and quickly,” Gore added. 

Fossil fuel lobbyists at COP28

Gore expressed his scepticism about COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber, the head of the UAE’s state-owned oil company ADNOC, being an honest broker of a climate deal.

“They are abusing the public’s trust by naming the CEO of one of the largest and least responsible oil companies in the world as head of the COP,” Gore told Reuters.

Exxon Mobil’s CEO Darren Woods made his first-ever appearance at COP, to which Gore said the oil company’s engagement does not push away its history of resisting climate policies. 

“He should not be taken seriously. He’s protecting his profits and placing them in a higher priority than the survival of the human civilisation,” Gore told Reuters.

“For COP to allow in thousands of representatives of the fossil fuel industry, which is making vast profits for a wealthy few while trashing the climate for everyone, perverts the very rationale of a meeting whose purpose is to protect the climate and people from further harm,” Amnesty International’s programme director of Climate, Economic and Social Justice and Corporate Accountability, Marta Schaaf, said

Schaaf also mentioned that ExxonMobil presented unproven technical solutions like carbon capture and storage as an answer to the climate crisis. “Exxon knew for decades that burning fossil fuels was damaging the climate but carried on regardless, selling ever more oil and gas,” she added.

Amnesty International, a global human rights organisation, has called for Al Jaber to resign as CEO of ADNOC to be eligible to chair COP28.

Al Gore, a now prominent environmental advocate, has pushed to phase out fossil fuels without considering carbon capture technology as “there is a pretence on the part of the fossil fuel companies that it is a readily available, economically viable technology”.

More than half of the 200 countries represented at COP28 have signalled they would support the agreement language, which mentions the phase-out of fossil fuels. 

According to Kick Big Polluters Out’s analysts, compared with 636 at the previous year’s meeting, there are now a record 2,456 lobbyists representing the fossil fuel industry with access to COP28.

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