Documents show UAE aimed to pursue gas deals ahead of COP28, BBC says

Credit: REUTERS/AMR ALFIKY

By Yousef Saba

DUBAI, Nov 27 (Reuters) - COP28 host the United Arab Emirates planned to discuss possible natural gas and other commercial deals ahead of U.N. climate talks that begin this week, an investigation by the BBC and the Centre for Climate Reporting (CCR) said on Monday.

The climate summit will be the first global assessment of progress since the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015, which set a goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), while aiming for a cap of 1.5C.

Climate scientists have said achieving that goal depends on phasing out fossil fuels.

The investigation cited leaked documents, which it said were prepared for COP28 President-designate Sultan Al Jaber for meetings with at least 27 governments.

They included talking points to further ADNOC's interests in LNG or petrochemicals, as well as state renewables firm Masdar's interests in renewables and other climate-mitigation measures.

A COP28 spokesperson told Reuters the documents were "innacurate".

"The documents referred to in the BBC article are inaccurate and were not used by COP28 in meetings," a COP28 spokesperson said. "It is extremely disappointing to see the BBC use unverified documents in their reporting," said a statement in response to a Reuters question over the documents.

ON THE SIDE OF OIL?

The nomination of Jaber to lead the climate talks has drawn criticism from climate activists, who are concerned he will be unable to take the neutral stance required of a COP president.

Jaber is head of state oil giant Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and the UAE is a major crude producer and a leading member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Jaber has presented himself as a mediator between both sides of the fossil fuel divide, with a healthy desire to include the oil and gas industry in the climate debate.

CCR said it worked with the BBC to verify the authenticity of the documents, which it said were leaked by a whistleblower anonymously for fear of retaliation. It published a portion of the documents - 46 of 150 pages.

ADNOC is "willing to jointly evaluate international LNG opportunities" in Mozambique, Canada and Australia, showed one section of the documents, prepared for a potential meeting with Zhao Yingmin, China's vice-minister of ecology and environment.

ADNOC is also seeking Brazil's help to secure endorsement for a non-binding offer it made with private equity firm Apollo for a controlling stake in petrochemical producer Braksem.

"Securing alignment and endorsement for the deal at the highest level is important for us," the document said in a page prepared for a potential discussion with Brazil's Environment Minister, Marina Silva.

"There are many synergies between the UAE and Brazil - with both countries looking to exploit their hydrocarbon resources responsibly," another section said.

Talking points were also prepared to further interests in LNG in France, Germany, Kenya, Mexico and Venezuela, as well as petrochemicals in countries including Egypt and Azerbaijan, the published documents showed.

The UAE also sought investments or cooperation on renewables or other climate change-mitigating action, including methane abatement, with several countries including Britain, China, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

(Reporting by Yousef Saba; editing by Barbara Lewis)

((Yousef.Saba@thomsonreuters.com; +971562166204; https://twitter.com/YousefSaba))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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