Getting Yelled At By The Petro Sultan

The Host With The Most…To Lose

I don’t know, does anyone else think that there might be some sketchy optics when a major oil producing nation hosts a global climate conference, and the president of the event – head of the state oil company – publicly objects to the term “phaseout” of fossil fuels. The very mention of such a thing caused Cop28 conference president Sultan Al Jaber to insist there is “no science” indicating that a “phase-out” of fossil fuels is necessary. In fact, the petro boss was a little cranky with press members asking such awkward questions of the host. The host of the climate event.

“I accepted to come to this meeting to have a sober and mature conversation. I’m not in any way signing up to any discussion that is alarmist. There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says that the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5C,” ranted Al Jaber. ”Stop the pointing of fingers. Stop it!”

Hey, sorry Al! Didn’t mean to offend. Hoping this doesn’t mean I won’t be invited back?

To be quite candid, a lot of people disagree with the Sultan. In fact, the past month saw a couple of successive days in which the magic 1.5C threshold was already breached. 2023 is the hottest month globally for hundreds of thousands of years. Emissions are still climbing, ice melt at both poles is accelerating, droughts are emptying rivers, atmospheric CO2 has soared past 420 ppm for good and extreme weather event insurance losses breached $100 billion annually. The USA is producing more oil and gas than anytime in history.

So then, if the 84,000 attendees of Cop28 weren’t there to phase out fossil fuels, why did they commit all that time and money? Did you guess that the 1,400 oil company lobbyists in attendance were there to promote solar and wind? Nope, sorry, you guessed wrong.


No, the point of this glitzy exercise in lux networking and sustainable partying is to help the distracted, uninterested and overwhelmed public feel as if something meaningful is being done to put the brakes on the runaway climate emergency. In other words, to provide cover for corporate business as usual (even maybe meet some fellow operatives and make a few deals – that oil isn’t going to extract itself).

The strategists who run the global denialist infrastructure have moved past denial (it’s been an ever shifting platform for at least six decades). The new phase is to shape and smooth the narrative to make sure the draconian actions that are now imperative do not happen. Instead, the oil producing entities have most definitely committed more or less to probably take some action pretty soon “as they see fit.” Lots of words, nothing actually binding. And history shows that even those promises will not be kept. There is no enforcement mechanism in the contract that no one will read.

So the way this will work is the way it’s supposed to work: the average citizen will probably peripherally notice that there was a climate summit and they will read the back pat ourselves press releases. They will conclude – because they really want to conclude – that the greatest catastrophe ever to face the species is being taken care of. But it isn’t.

One unprecedented outcome was announced after Cop28: The First World countries agreed for the first time to set aside $550,000,000 for third world companies to “fight” climate change. That’s a lot of zeros. F

For perspective, it’s the price of Jeff Bezos’ latest boat. Maybe Maldives can build some sustainable rafts.

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