Thousands of busybodies have descended on Abu Dhabi to forestall what they see as an imminent apocalypse. The twenty-eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP28) being held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), is presided over by its president, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change. Al Jaber is also the chief executive officer of Adnoc, the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, as well as the chairman of Masdar, otherwise known as the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, a state-owned renewable energy firm. The irony of an oil executive leading a meeting intended to eliminate fossil fuels from the world economy was not lost on participants.
In fact, the climate conference was rife with controversy and intrigue even before it began. Immediately after Al Jaber’s appointment as president, climate activists decried his presidency as a conflict of interests and an outrage, with one activist complaining, “this appointment goes beyond putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.” COP28 is the first conference to have an industry CEO, let alone an oil industry CEO, placed at the helm of the climate change mitigation agenda. Calls for Al Jaber to step down from his CEO position at Adnoc soon followed his appointment and were promptly ignored.
The controversy only increased as the summit approached. A mere month before the conference began, in an online meeting of a She Changes Climate event, Al Jaber responded angrily to Mary Robinson—an Irish politician, the chair of the Elders group, and a former UN special envoy for climate change—after Robinson challenged Al Jaber to commit to phasing out fossil fuels entirely. Robinson claimed, “We’re in an absolute crisis that is hurting women and children more than anyone.” Making such absurd connections is typical of climate activists, who often roll identity politics into their climate activism, which apparently gives them the sense that they are tackling all the world’s supposed problems in a single effort.
Al Jaber responded by countering:
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 [the temperature increase cap decreed in the Paris Climate Accord]. . . .
. . . Please help me, 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. (emphasis mine)
Al Jaber’s remarks have been regarded as verging on, if not explicitly representative of, climate change science “denial,” and he has been savaged for them. Yet, they represent the only rational, evidence-based statements made during this embattled conversation.
Further charges that Al Jaber aims to undermine the climate change agenda came from leaked communications between COP28 and Adnoc staff members, some of whom have been working in both capacities. The leaked documents strongly suggest that Al Jaber planned to use his position as the COP28 president to make oil deals on the side with government officials of participating nations. These revelations caused a frenzy among climate activist groups. One can only hope that these plans are true and that Al Jaber will have succeeded in making some oil deals for Adnoc and its potential customers. Such economic activity is not so much a sign of hypocrisy as it is evidence that economic actors will pursue rational exchanges, despite the obstacles posed by the market interference of interventionists like the United Nations and its political accomplices, including obstacles that are self-imposed by the economic actors themselves.
Other accusations leveled at Al Jaber’s presidency of COP28 include the charge that Adnoc “has the largest net-zero-busting expansion plans of any company in the world.” Adnoc, it is claimed, has been vastly expanding its development of fossil fuels, which would betray efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Given that fossil fuel exports account for approximately 70 percent of the UAE’s merchandise exports, such efforts at expansion only make economic sense.
Al Jaber may be the only sane person in attendance at COP28, but he will likely be pressured into acceding to the demands of climate catastrophists. The rest of the participants appear to be in hysterics while under the sway of a mass delusion. Against the facts of science and the benefits of fossil-fuel-enabled technology, they believe that CO2 is “pollution,” that “sustainability” requires imposing an enormous tax on humanity for the respiration and growth of plant life, and that the farming methods of the original Green Revolution—which have increased yields by many factors—must be eliminated and replaced with a new environmentalist Green Revolution. They believe that industrial production must be undertaken using non-fossil-fuel inputs and that myriad industrial products must exclude fossil-fuel-based materials. These demands are as delusional as anything enacted by Chairman Mao Zedong during the Great Leap Forward.
Carbon neutrality by 2050 is an insanely impossible demand. Our industrial civilization, and the population it supports, depends on the advances made in fossil fuel extraction and use. Even Canadian scientist and polymath Vaclav Smil—a believer in climate change, who is an otherwise credible source—agrees. In his book, How the World Really Works, Smil writes:
For those who ignore the energetic and material imperatives of our world, those who prefer mantras of green solutions to understanding how we have come to this point, the prescription is easy: just decarbonize—switch from burning fossil carbon to converting inexhaustible flows of renewable energies. The real wrench in the works: we are a fossil-fueled civilization whose technical and scientific advances, quality of life, and prosperity rest on the combustion of huge quantities of fossil carbon, and we cannot simply walk away from this critical determinant of our fortunes in a few decades, never mind years.
Complete decarbonization of the global economy by 2050 is now conceivable only at the cost of unthinkable global economic retreat, or as a result of extraordinarily rapid transformations relying on near-miraculous technical advances.
As Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber seemed to suggest, the climate change catastrophists of COP28 would consign humanity to preindustrial conditions—relegating those in poorer regions to misery and hunger—all while tackling a phantom whose existence is dubious at best.
The economics of climate change catastrophism involve global centralized planning and interventionism on a scale hitherto unexampled. It is irrational to the extent that it purposefully forgoes known economic advantages, jettisons tried-and-true methods, and rejects the market-based approach that has proven to maximize inputs for efficient wealth production. It artificially imposes technological change rather than allowing it to develop of its own accord. Furthermore, it aims to curtail economic freedom by supplanting the choices of producers and consumers and overwriting them with the plans of a climate change dictatorship.
The full results of COP28 will become known by December 14. One can only hope that it ends in abject failure. Climate activists have suggested that it already has.