Big Oil

The news from COP 28 is amazingly bizarre and exciting.


How could it not be? Last year the silly blah, blah debacle in Egypt was hosted by Coca Cola among other respectable defenders of the environment. This year the entire charade has been tossed aside as billionaire Sultan Doctor Ahmed Al Jaber, the highly esteemed Minister of Energy for the United Arab Emirates assumed the role of “impartial” President. His self-proclaimed impartiality reinforced by his commanding position as chief executive of the 3.5 million barrels per day UAE state oil company Adnoc.


At long last after 27 COP non-productive gabfests, we finally have honesty and a firm statement that when it comes to the Climate Crisis, no one is going to do a damn thing about it other than to find ways to profit from it.


Look at the bright side people.


We simply turn climate crisis into climate chaos as we learn to live with it.


Nothing spells addressing the problem of increasing amounts of greenhouse gases like 80,000 people jetting off from around the world to Dubai for a mega-meeting in an luxurious air-conditioned dome in the desert with abundant bottles of complimentary imported Pepsi Cola bottled Aquafina water.


But this time there is a significant development. The usual meaningless call to “phase out fossil fuels” was tossed out and immediately shut down as “alarmist” by the honorable Mr. Sultan, the man very much in charge of the proceedings as he described a concise, clear and courageous agenda for the conference.


During the opening ceremony, his most excellent Sultancy Al Jaber, in answer to the need to phase out fossil fuels, imperiously replied: “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.”


In other words, let’s put an end to this nonsense of phasing out fossil fuels. It ain’t gonna happen and now perhaps we can stop the absurd pie in the sky fantasy that it will happen. As the Sultan said, it won’t, so stop it already.


With all the Greenies asking annoying questions, the Sultan seemed to be in a grumpy bad mood. At one meeting he allowed four questions but angrily answered only one from a North American indigenous man and did not take the other three. The question was about access to delegates by indigenous people to which the Sultan boasted that this was the most inclusive COP for indigenous peoples ever and appeared to be upset that the questioner was not sufficiently thankful and not respectful enough. In other words, I gave you your space to discuss whatever nonsense you want to discuss amongst yourself, now leave me alone so I can concentrate on what is really important – like reframing the narrative to something more realistically acceptable to the people who count.


Professor Sir David King, the chair of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group and a former UK chief scientific adviser, said: “It is incredibly concerning and surprising to hear the COP 28 president defend the use of fossil fuels. It is undeniable that to limit global warming to 1.5C we must all rapidly reduce carbon emissions and phase-out the use of fossil fuels by 2035 at the latest. The alternative is an unmanageable future for humanity.”


Why is it so surprising? Why would anyone believe that the fossil fuel corporations would altruistically cut their own selfish economic throats? Humanity’s future is not even remotely a consideration for them and of course they have no intention of imagining an unimaginable future because, well it’s unimaginable and has no chance of fitting into their world view. Such foolish talk has been tolerated and will continue to be tolerated but the truth is that the fossil fuel companies are now firmly in control of the narrative and the overall eco-agenda and of course – our collective futures.


The current goals of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cannot be achieved without reducing, phasing out and ending dependence on fossil fuels for energy and development. That may be true, but truth has nothing to do with the way the modern world works. Lies and alternative facts work much better, especially for those who count, like banks, investment firms, corporations, and governments.


Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia straight out refuse to back the idea of a phase out of fossil fuels. The USA and the European nations are going through the public relations required motions of backing a phase out but still clinging to the unrealistic pretense that it will happen, knowing full well that it won’t.


Because when it comes right down to it, profits and politics determine the action of governments.


The governments and the oil companies also know that people like their comforts, their cars, their industrial agriculture, their gas guzzling toys, their efficient luxury travels, and the oil companies keep pushing the fear that without fossil fuels, societies will revert to the stone age. 


Yes, people want to see change but for the most part people don’t want to change if it means sacrifices in their lifestyles and comforts.


Of course, there are some rather low-lying island nations that do want to see change right now but a special fund has been set up for them by wealthier nations to keep them quiet and it is this fund that is being touted as the great achievement of COP 28 because after talks and promises since COP 21, some rich countries decided for the first time to actually toss some coins into the hat. Notably the United States and Japan contributed the least and were not too happy about it.


As to the crux of what COP is all about, well, according to Sultan Al Jaber, “Show me the roadmap for a phase-out of fossil fuel that will allow for sustainable socioeconomic development, unless you want to take the world back into caves.”

“I don’t think you will be able to help solve the climate problem by pointing fingers or contributing to the polarization and the divide that is already happening in the world. Show me the solutions.” He said, “Stop the pointing of fingers. Stop it.” 

In other words, kiddies, stop blaming the oil corporations for the problem and start embracing the oil companies for the solution.

Sultan Doctor Al Jaber became the President of the COP 28 because of his impeccable environmentalist credentials like his BSc in Chemical Engineering and his PhD in Business and Economics, an education paid for by a very generous scholarship from the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

The last thing COP needs is an ecologist or climatologist orchestrating the proceedings. Who wants that? Certainly not the political and corporate deciders.

Dr Al Jaber’s message was helped considerably with the invitation of some 2,456 attendees affiliated with the oil and gas industries, four times the number that attended COP 27 last year. These fossil fuel attendees greatly outnumbered the 316 indigenous representatives.

One of the reasons the UAE was eager to host COP 28 was for the opportunity to promote oil and gas deals, to offer fossil fuels as the solution to the climate crisis and not the cause.

When in doubt, look for the Orwellian solution. Oil, gas, and coal are good for you, alternatives not so good for you.

Instead of alternative solutions, the idea is to push alternative thinking, like naming huge ships that transport coal as the m/v Climate Justice or Climate Ethics or promoting oil companies as the potential saviors of the environment.

This will be helped considerably with the financing and election of right wing, climate change denying governments as we are seeing in Argentina and the Netherlands and the trend towards the same in the United States and many other nations where opposition to fossil fuels is increasingly becoming unpopular and criminalized. 

The U.K. flew King Charles III in for the circus to distract Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s speech abandoning climate policies on energy efficiency. After the speech Sunak promptly flew back to London, completely uninterested in whatever trivial nonsense was being discussed or negotiated.

The new Dutch government wants to undo the green transition in the Netherlands, New Zealand wants to repeal the Zero Carbon Tax. Germany wants to call for an end to all climate action efforts. In Canada the soon to be Conservative government has stated they won’t recognize that there is a climate crisis at all. And the United States, well, the U.S. government will do whatever the Oil companies want them to do, always have, always will.

COP has been effectively co-opted and is becoming an annual green-washing theme party event that the bad guy’s host for the benefit of the bad guys. The why is easily explained. The bad guys have the money.

Rachel Rose Jackson, a research director at Corporate Accountability, said: “If COP 28 doesn’t deliver a fossil fuel phase out, we know who to blame. We are angry, and we are over having to explain again and again why the fossil fuel industry should not be writing the climate rules.”  

“We are angry”. How cute?

The problem for Jackson and all other NGO’s and indigenous groups and small island nations is that the people with the power no longer need to pretend to care. They are rewriting the rules and redrawing the roadmap.

The consequences of climate chaos are good for the economy in the short term. Destruction by storms and fires, floods and drought create opportunities in construction and engineering. Consequences leading to war benefit the armament industries and consequences leading to mass migration benefit police and border patrol budgets and give politicians the soapbox to rant and rail against immigration and illegal migration. They need border threats to secure votes and modern politics thrives on conflict and chaos.

Of course, in the long term the consequences affect all of humanity, but our entire global economic systems have for the most part always been short term investment for short term profitability. To be blunt, global economics and global politics operate within the definition of avaricious insanity.

All that oil barons like Sultan Doctor Al Jaber and the CEO’s of all the major fossil fuel companies need to do, and what they are effectively now doing is to convince the world that climate change denial or climate change acceptance is the position of sanity and that those who cling to the “fantasy” of ending fossil fuel production are insane and/or irresponsible.

Vladimir Putin flew into the region, to nearby Abu Dhabi, during the events in Dubai, stopping briefly to meet with his “dear friend” Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nayyan, the President of the UAE. He flew into Abu Dhabi escorted by four Sukhoi-35S Russian fighter jets where he was driven on streets draped with Russian flags. With the Ukrainians attending COP 28 in nearby Dubai, the real business of the UAE that day was Russian oil because Putin was there to talk oil not to talk about climate, flying off to Riyadh the next day to talk some more about oil with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. All well timed to illustrate that it was oil not climate that is the real focus for Russia, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, meaning the prescheduled COP 29 in Russia will most likely be rescheduled for Germany and Putin can use the messy affair in the Ukraine as an excuse for his non-interest in hosting something that conflicts with his more important oil trade negotiations. He will be spared the pretense of caring about the climate as a host nation.

Be it Russia or Germany, Big Oil has effectively established the new “petro is proficient” paradigm that has effectively taken root in the shifting sands of the United Arab Emirates.

It’s time to end these annual non-productive COP circuses, not that it will end anytime soon, but it is becoming like the Olympics held more for prestige and trade advantages than for anything even remotely addressing the actual issues causing climate chaos.

We know the cause. We can see who is responsible? We know what needs to be done. The problem is that we continue to deny the cause, we continue to ignore or embolden those responsible and we continue to not take any action in the present, preferring to make bold promises that cannot be taken seriously.

COP 28 will end on December 12th and there will be lots of talks about phasing out, phasing down or abating fossil fuel production and consumption. It will be a feel-good word salad of wonderful, lovely promises and high hopes. Eighty thousand people will settle back into their commercial airline seats or private jets to return home to a world that is getting hotter and more dangerous with stronger storms, more frequent floods and fires and increasing uncertainty about the future.

But not to worry, we’ll solve all the problems next year at COP29 or the year after at COP30 or blah, blah blah, the years after that until there will be no more COPS and not much of anything else really – a brave new and very much warmer new world order.

According to our oiliocratic leaders, the problem is all in our heads because as this year’s esteemed and not to be contradicted and very privileged COP president put it: “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.”


Captain Paul Watson is the Founder of the Captain Paul Watson Foundation and Neptune’s Pirate. He is the author of Urgent! Save our Ocean to Survive Climate Change

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