A clever plan to protect the environment, known as Cop28, is organized by wealthy individuals in the oil industry who are actually putting the planet at risk. This idea was shared by Marina Hyde.
The idea of a “petrostate hosting a climate conference” may seem like a comedic skit, similar to ones about a fox guarding a henhouse or Jimmy Savile hosting a popular British TV show. However, the reality of the situation is far from a laughing matter. The president of the upcoming Cop28 climate conference in Dubai is also the CEO of the United Arab Emirates’ state oil company, blurring the line between a joke and a dire warning of potential extinction. Despite this, the UAE continues to allow oil companies to burn waste gas, creating literal flares that will likely overshadow any metaphorical ones. It is possible that the Emirati government may temporarily ban this harmful practice during the conference, as China did with factories during the 2008 Olympics. Otherwise, attendees arriving on private planes will have a clear view of the oil fields ablaze, perhaps finding it ironic to be greeted by such a fiery display.
The United Arab Emirates, a country that can purchase our football clubs but not control our newspapers, may soon see their titles being owned by foreign individuals like Rupert Murdoch, Conrad Black, the Barclays, or the Rothermeres. The potential sale of the Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, and Spectator titles to an investment fund supported by the Abu Dhabi ruling family has raised concerns. Currently, a weak government investigation is the only thing preventing a possible corporate retreat in a desert ski-resort where former Telegraph editor Charles Moore may be sitting near Pep Guardiola and potentially Jack Grealish.
Can it really be just two years since Boris Johnson left his own climate conference early by private jet to have dinner with Lord Moore, a well-known climate change denier? Moore, who used to work for Johnson at The Telegraph, was trying to convince him to intervene in a minor scandal involving Owen Paterson and the parliamentary standards commissioner. It turns out that Charles was wrong about the situation, and this ultimately led to the downfall of Johnson’s premiership. Recently, Moore has been criticizing the possibility of The Telegraph becoming a mouthpiece for the government, which is particularly interesting coming from someone who once refused to pay his BBC licence fee but wanted Johnson to appoint him as chairman.
Regardless, this situation highlights the tendency of current society to engage in distracting activities. The media story is receiving more attention and enthusiasm than Thursday’s conference, which is meant to address a potentially life-threatening issue that affects much of the world. Perhaps if the climate crisis was presented more like the popular TV show Succession, it would capture the interest of the Telegraph’s somewhat unfocused commenters. Although I must admit, I did appreciate one comment stating that “GB News will be the final stronghold of the free press if Islam acquires the Telegraph”.
What is the outlook for Cop28? Despite previous concerns, it appears that demonstrations at the conference have been “authorized” in a manner that suggests they will occur in a designated area near the airport. Additionally, Joe Biden will not be attending, despite his climate envoy, John Kerry, stating just a few weeks ago that having an oil and gas-producing country lead a climate conference was an “experiment.” This experiment is currently underway.
It appears that Cop28 is resembling a late-stage Fifa tournament, where the focus is on exchanging bribes internationally and football is simply a secondary aspect. This is evident in the recent news from the BBC and Centre for Climate Reporting, which revealed that Al Jaber and the UAE intended to use the conference to market oil and gas deals to countries like China, Brazil, Germany, and Egypt. It must be noted that the conference organizers now claim that these plans were not actually implemented in meetings and that private meetings are meant to remain confidential.
However, it appears that Al Jaber’s team is disturbed by the recent revelation. Interestingly, even the Telegraph, which previously did not consider such matters newsworthy, reported on the story. This may be because they now have a personal stake in the situation. In my opinion, I concur with Charles Moore’s viewpoint that a takeover of the Telegraph titles by the UAE government would not be beneficial, especially since it would result in the loss of the newspaper’s brave coverage of climate change (November 27-28, 2023).
However, as the upper echelons of the Conservative party debate whether to align with this stance or acknowledge that the UK’s expertise in selling to exploitative foreign entities is one of its few remaining strengths, the rest of us must anticipate the beginning of Cop28 on Thursday. This event, I apologize for taking a bold stance, is likely the more significant in the long run.
and satirist, known for her sharp wit and biting humor.
Marina Hyde is a writer for The Guardian who specializes in satire and is recognized for her clever and cutting sense of humor.
Can traditional energy companies make the switch to sustainable energy sources? Join us on Tuesday, December 5th from 8pm-9:15pm GMT for a live panel discussion featuring Damian Carrington, Christiana Figueres, Tessa Khan, and Mike Coffin. We will be exploring the possibility of fossil fuel companies transitioning to clean energy. Reserve your spot by booking tickets at theguardian.live/Cop28.
Marina Hyde’s book, “What Just Happened?!” published by Guardian Faber Publishing, is available for purchase at £9.99 on guardianbookshop.com to show your support for The Guardian and Observer. Additional fees may apply for delivery.