According to data, the United Arab Emirates, host of Cop28, has the largest plans for oil production that contribute to climate change.
The CEO of the United Arab Emirates’ state oil company will lead upcoming UN climate talks. According to recent data, this company has the biggest plans for expansion that will likely contribute to net-zero emissions.
Sultan Al Jaber is the chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and president of the Cop28 summit, which begins on 30 November. The researchers behind the new data said Adnoc’s huge planned expansion of oil and gas production was a clear conflict of interest and they said his position was “ridiculous”.
During the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28), countries will strive to reach a consensus on reducing the consumption of fossil fuels and increasing renewable energy sources threefold. This meeting takes place in a year where there has been a significant rise in global temperatures, causing severe effects from extreme weather events and raising concerns about the exploitation of excessive fossil fuel reserves.
The information comes from Gogel, a publicly accessible database that documents the actions of over 1,600 companies, which make up 95% of global oil and gas production. The data indicates that the majority of these companies are disregarding the advice of climate experts who warn that the development of new oil and gas fields will prevent the internationally accepted goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C. Additionally, it reveals that:
The industry has invested $170 billion in exploring for potential new oil and gas reserves since 2021.
Out of the 700 companies that are involved in exploring or developing new oil and gas fields, 96% are still actively pursuing these ventures.
Over 1,000 companies have intentions to construct new gas pipelines, gas-based power plants, or export terminals for liquified natural gas (LNG).
Last week, the United Nations issued a warning stating that companies in the fossil fuel industry are planning expansions that would greatly exceed the planet’s carbon budget. Experts have criticized these plans as “insanity” and have raised concerns about the future of humanity. Numerous scientific studies have determined that in order to address the climate emergency, a significant portion of existing oil, gas, and coal reserves must remain untouched. However, major fossil fuel companies and petrostates continue to search for new reserves.
Nils Bartsch, the head of oil and gas research at NGO Urgewald, expressed concern about the magnitude of the industry’s expansion plans. He believes that in order to maintain a 1.5C temperature increase, there needs to be a swift and controlled decrease in oil and gas production. However, companies in this industry seem to be building a pathway towards climate chaos, according to Bartsch.
Bartsch expressed disapproval of Al Jaber’s dual responsibilities. He believes it is absurd for the same person to oversee both the expansion of oil and gas and lead climate negotiations. This creates an obvious conflict of interest.
A representative from Adnoc stated that the information and presumptions presented in this report regarding Adnoc are inaccurate and deceptive. The organization did not disclose its own estimation for the projected growth of its oil and gas output.
The representative stated that in light of the increasing global population’s desire for widespread access to energy, all proposed energy transition plans, including those from the IEA, recognize the necessity of utilizing oil and gas to fulfill future energy needs. Adnoc is responsible for producing some of the least carbon-intensive oil and gas in the world.
Al Jaber is also the chair of the UAE’s renewables company Masdar and is the nation’s climate envoy. His appointment to run Cop28 has been criticised by politicians and campaigners. Some figures have supported him, including the US climate envoy, John Kerry, and Al Jaber has said his knowledge of the energy business is an advantage. The Cop28 office did not respond to a request for comment.
The Gogel database is built using information from Rystad, the industry standard data provider. The researchers used the latest net zero scenario from the IEA to calculate the overshoot in each company’s oil and gas expansion plans.
The proposed IEA plan outlines a possible route to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, aligning with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, any oil and gas production beyond 2023 would go beyond the scope of this plan. Adnoc’s plans for expansion are the most significant and do not align with the 1.5C limit.
An earlier report by the Guardian in April uncovered that Adnoc has the third largest plans for achieving net-zero emissions, following behind Saudi Aramco and QatarEnergy. This assessment was based on a scenario from the IEA.
Adnoc is projected to have a higher number of approved expansions after 2023 compared to other companies, making it the top performer in the updated analysis.
According to a leaked internal document, Politico reported that Adnoc will postpone a drilling lease competition until after Cop28.
The next two companies with significant 1.5C overshoots are the National Iranian Oil Company and ExxonMobil.
The latest forecast from the International Energy Agency (IEA) for 2023 entails a steeper yearly decrease in the output of oil and gas compared to previous predictions. It also incorporates the concept of stranded assets for the first time, referring to oil and gas infrastructure that must be decommissioned earlier than expected in order to align with climate targets.
In the years 2021 to 2023, the top spenders on exploration were the Chinese companies CNPC and CNOOC, followed by Saudi Aramco and Pemex, the state-owned oil company of Mexico.
According to the Gogel database, businesses are intending to raise their international LNG export capabilities by 162%, despite research indicating that this fuel may have a greater environmental impact than coal. The majority of this growth is being driven by the US, with plans for 21 new LNG export facilities along the Gulf coast, making up 41% of the overall expansion. A significant portion of the natural gas will be extracted through fracking in the Permian Basin.