LONDON, 11th December 2023: The UAE has invited fossil fuel bosses planning to produce more than 25 billion barrels of oil this decade into the heart of COP28, according to new analysis.
The firms these bosses are representing at the Dubai climate summit – which is currently embroiled in a row over the continuing role of fossil fuels in the global energy mix – plan to invest nearly $800 billion in oil and gas production by 2030.
Companies attend COPs – the annual UN climate negotiations aimed at limiting global heating – as part of an official delegation. Often, this is as part of a business group or the delegation of the country they're from. In the case of these executives, they were specifically invited by the host of the climate conference - the UAE.
The Global Witness analysis of Rystad Energy data and the COP28 participation list shows how some of the world’s largest polluters are engaging in climate negotiations while planning to produce vast sums of oil and gas that when consumed will make it much harder for nations to meet the Paris Agreement 1.5C temperature goal.
COP28, the annual UN climate talks aimed at reducing mankind’s emissions of planet warming greenhouse gas emissions, has already seen a record attendance of fossil fuel lobbyists, with at least 2,456 individuals associated with the industry identified by the Kick Big Polluters Out coalition.
Among the more than 84,000 diplomats, business representatives, environmental groups and media descending on Dubai for the negotiations were 178 fossil fuel lobbyists who are registered to attend COP28 as guests of the hosts UAE.
Within that group, there are 17 people who are either permanent or acting CEOs, chairpeople, or senior directors of fossil fuel producers or consumers. Among the findings of Global Witness’s investigation:
- ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods, who this month said that climate conferences focused too much on renewables, was invited to attend COP28. His company is on course to produce over seven billion barrels of oil between 2023-2030, according to our analysis. It is also due to spend more than $270 billion on oil and gas this decade.
- BP, which has paid its shareholders $24 billion during the cost of living crisis and whose acting CEO Murray Auchincloss was listed to attend COP28, will likely produce over 3 billion barrels of oil by the end of the decade. It is slated to invest more than $130 billion in oil and gas by then.
- Occidental, whose CEO Vicki Hollub was invited to COP28 after complaining two years ago that fossil fuel executives were being squeezed out of climate talks, is set to produce 2.8 billion barrels of oil and spend over $104 billion by the end of the decade.
- ENI, which is facing legal action in Italy for lobbying for more oil and gas despite the known environmental risks and whose CEO Claudio Descalzi was on the COP28 host invites participant list, is on course to produce over 2.6 billion barrels of oil this decade and spend over $97 billion on oil and gas by 2030.
- Mussabeh al-Kaabi, an executive director the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company Group, was on the host invitees list. COP28 President Sultan Al-Jaber is CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, which. ADNOC is projected to produce 9.4 billion barrels of oil by 2030 and spend nearly $150 billion on oil and gas by then.
The other 12 companies whose bosses were invited plan to produce some 397 million barrels of oil this decade and invest $270 million in oil and gas.
Overall, the firms represented by their bosses at COP28 plan to produce oil and gas that when consumed will emit a total of 14.2 billion tonnes this decade – more than the annual emissions of China.
Representatives of dozens of other fossil fuel groups were invited to attend COP28, which this year for the first time divulged the list of host invitees. While it is impossible to prove due to a lack of transparency, it is likely that previous COP hosts – most recently Egypt and the UK – also invited a large number of fossil fuel representatives to attend.
Patrick Galey, senior fossil fuel investigator at Global Witness, said:
"It seems as though COP28 is being treated by the world’s biggest polluters as a trade show to seek new deals and further legitimacy for their climate-wrecking products.
“This analysis is just the latest chapter in the long history of Western oil and gas majors using climate negotiations to cosy up to policymakers to the detriment of everyone on earth who isn’t one of their shareholders.
“When you have the CEO of ExxonMobil complaining that the products driving the climate crisis are being given short shrift at talks designed to tackle it, it shows the world the apparent contempt with which fossil fuel bosses view scientists, climate vulnerable nations, and justice movements rooted in the Global South.
“When an oil boss was named president of COP28, we feared that would allow fossil fuels to co-opt negotiations. Sadly, this analysis appears to prove our fears were well founded.”
Global Witness contacted all companies named in this investigation for comment.
A spokesperson from ADNOC said the analysis was “inaccurate”.
They said: “We have clearly stated that we are growing our production capacity from around 4.65 mb/d to 5 mb/d by 2027. This represents a 7% increase in production capacity.
“All energy transition scenarios, including those by the IEA and Rystad, acknowledge that some level of oil and gas will be needed to meet future energy demand.
“We are producing some of the world’s least carbon intensive oil and gas and we are further reducing our carbon intensity by 25% by 2030 while making an initial investment of $15 billion to decarbonize our operations.”
- The data on the companies’ operated oil production for 2023-2030 were sourced from energy business intelligence agency Rystad Energy’s UCube database. UCube is an integrated field-by-field database of the global upstream oil and gas market, covering the time span from 1900 to 2100. Rystad’s data is widely referenced by major oil and gas companies, the media and international bodies such as the IEA.
- Using Rystad we ascertained that each companies’ operated oil production and operated gas production
- UCube takes into account oil and gas demand to project asset-level supply. Projections are based on data sources including company reporting (e.g., earnings and profits reporting) and policies, government sources, energy service reporting, energy agencies and academic research and news articles. Where reported data is unavailable, data is modelled based on the above sources and supported by a comprehensive database of global oil and gas fields.
- Data source from UCube assumes a “mean” warming scenario of 1.9C hotter than pre-industrial temperatures, where global oil demand peaks at 107 million bpd by 2026 and declines progressively to 66 million bpd by 2050. It also assumes a CCUS capacity of 600 million tonnes/year globally by 2030
- We sourced the data of operated production from 2023-2030. The data includes all assets that are currently producing, those under development (assets for which development has been approved but production has not yet started), discovery (assets where discoveries have been made, but are not yet in a phase of further development) and undiscovered (assets where discoveries have not yet been made)
- The data on oil covers only crude oil and gas. We did not include figures for NGL and condensate, making these conservative production estimates
- We based our emissions calculations on values taken from the European Investment Bank’s 2023 Carbon Footprint Methodologies to arrive at overall end use (Scope 3) emissions volumes operated oil and gas production
- ADNOC recently doubled its CCUS capacity goal and now seeks to have 10 million tonnes/annum CCUS capacity by 2030. As its CCUS only applies to its upstream (I.e. scope 1 and 2) emissions, we have not factored this into scope 3 emissions calculations
- Detailed methodology and data available on request