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November 28, 2023

Editor’s note: is this the ‘Volkswagen 2015’ moment for the COP presidency?

Sultan al-Jaber, Abu Dhabi National Oil Co
It has been alleged that Sultan al-Jaber has held meetings with governments and business leaders with plans to discuss fossil fuel deals at COP28 (Photo: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg)

The latest edition of our Sustainable Views newsletter

Dear reader,

We’re days away from COP28, and the consequences of holding the summit in an oil state are becoming increasingly apparent. For what it’s worth, I’m not against having it in the Middle East – global problems require global solutions – but that argument only holds if COP28 is being conducted in good faith. And there are allegations this is not the case.

A whistleblower has leaked documents indicating COP28 president-designate Sultan al-Jaber’s intent on using the UAE’s role at the summit to push oil and gas deals with foreign governments, according to an investigation by the Centre for Climate Reporting with the BBC. Jaber’s role at COP28 has already been called into question given his day job as the chief executive of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. Now, it is reported that Jaber has held meetings with governments and business leaders, with plans to discuss fossil fuel deals. 

The UAE has told the CCR and the BBC that “private meetings are private”. If that’s the spirit that COP28 is going to be conducted with, then we’re all going to spend the conference trying to figure out what “hasn’t” been announced, putting little faith into what is agreed. The revelations have sparked outrage from climate leaders. 

“This is the ‘Volkswagen 2015’ moment for the #COP28 Presidency,” tweeted former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres, in reference to the German car giant’s emissions scandal. “Caught red handed, the COP Presidency has no other option but to now unequivocally step up the transparency, responsibility and accountability with which they lead the process.” 

If we can’t trust the COP28 leadership to work appropriately with others on climate, regulators can at least do their bit to help companies collaborate on climate change. 

Philippa and I have a piece for you on how European and UK authorities are addressing fears over competition law restricting companies’ abilities to work together on climate. The EU and the UK have both released guidance this year setting out exemptions for certain circumstances where it’s better that businesses collaborate on climate, in recognition of issues such as “first-mover disadvantage” incurred when a company tries to become more sustainable on its own.

Elsewhere, Claudia has a yarn on European due diligence legislation. More regulatory scrutiny of companies’ human rights and environmental records could accelerate businesses moving their supply chains closer to their end markets, one expert tells Claudia. The new EU rules would apply both to EU companies and non-EU businesses active in the bloc.

Finally, we’ve added a report on fast fashion to our knowledge hub. Big high street retailers such as Nike and Puma are “fanning the flames of a global boiling era” through their use of biomass boilers, according to environmental non-profit

Until tomorrow,


Alex Janiaud is senior investment correspondent at Sustainable Views  

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