Corrupt Oil Party 28

COP28 officially begins. Plus, the week in climate hearings.

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UAE’s Adnoc and Masdar CEO Sultan Ahmed al Jaber, very neutrally presiding over global climate talks. Credit: Christian Marquardt

The twenty-eighth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) officially begins Thursday in Abu Dhabi, led by COP28 President Sultan Ahmed al Jaber, who just happens to be the head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc). As I wrote when his presidency was announced in January:

I suppose the positive way of looking at this is that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has finally, after thirty years, become consequential enough that fossil-fuel interests need to be more aggressive and open in their contestation of the outcome of the negotiations.

BBC climate editor Justin Rowlatt and Centre for Climate Reporting’s Ben Stockton report that, yes indeed, al Jaber has been planning to aggressively and openly pursue fossil-fuel deals during COP28.

The reporters obtained documents “prepared by the UAE’s COP28 team for meetings with at least 27 foreign governments ahead of the COP28 summit”—including “plans to discuss fossil fuel deals with 15 nations.” The briefing documents for al Jaber mention that Adnoc is interested in deals with China, Columbia, Egypt, and Brazil, among other countries, and pledge that the oil interests of Saudi Arabia and Venezuela will be protected in the climate negotiations.

It should be noted that in addition to the fossil-fuel corruption, the UAE also planned to use the formal diplomatic talks to push the interests of its renewable company, Masdar, also run by al Jaber.1 Al Jaber has ignored calls to step down from the United Arab Emirates’ energy companies while he serves as the ostensibly neutral president of the international climate negotiations, instead using his “access to world leaders across the globe” to further the host nation’s petro-economic agenda.

Stockton’s report also mentions that “COP28 meetings are still regularly held at Adnoc headquarters and Al Jaber frequently works on summit business from his office at the oil company.”


Ben Beachy, who is not and has never been the CEO of an national energy company.

In genuinely exciting news, Ben Beachy, one of the most committed and effective Green New Dealers in D.C. policy circles, who worked at the Sierra Club and the BlueGreen Alliance during the Build Back Better-Inflation Reduction Act battles, is joining the White House as a Special Assistant to the President for Climate Policy, Industrial Sector, and Community Investment.

In less exciting news, Congress is returning from its Thanksgiving break, with the House Republican in-fighting starting up where it left off.

Tuesday, November 28

On Tuesday morning, House Homeland Security’s emergency management subcommittee chair Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.) and ranking member Troy Carter (D-La.) are holding a field hearing in New Orleans on federal, state, and local coordination of emergency preparedness in coastal communities. D’Esposito represents a coastal New York district ravaged by Superstorm Sandy, and New Orleans, of course, was permanently reshaped by Hurricane Katrina.

Wednesday, November 29

At 10 am, House Energy and Commerce’s environment and manufacturing subcommittee is holding a hearing on America’s history as the world’s greatest carbon polluter, aimed at the COP28 talks. The Republicans will present the U.S. record as the “global leader” in “reducing emissions.” Witnesses have not yet been announced.

Also at 10 am, the House Homeland Security Committee holds a hearing entitled The High North: How US Arctic Strategy Impacts Homeland Security.” Witnesses have not yet been announced.

Speaking of US Arctic strategy, at 10:15 am, House Natural Resources
Energy and Mineral Resources chair Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) is holding a hearing on his legislation, Alaska’s Right to Produce Act (H.R. 6285), which would overturn all of the Biden administration’s protections of Alaska’s coastal plain from oil and gas drilling and fast-track all proposed projects. Witnesses have not yet been announced.

At 11 am, the House Transportation and Infrastructure railroads subcommittee led by chair Troy Nehls (R-Texas) and ranking member Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.) receives testimony on the future of intercity passenger rail in America. Witnesses have not yet been announced.

Thursday, November 30

Thursday includes two Republican-led hearings on the mining industry, under the “critical minerals” rubric. At 10 am, the House Science Committee holds a hearing on the role of federal research in establishing a robust U.S. supply chain of critical minerals and materials The all-male panel includes DOE oil and gas official Ryan Peay, the mining-industry-funded Stanford mining engineer Jef Caers, rare-earth miner and former Trump DOE official Drew Horn, solar-energy supply-chain scientist Dustin Mulvaney, and chemical process CEO Tom Baroody. And at 2 pm, there is a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing on safety and security in the critical mineral supply chain.

Other Thursday 10 am hearings:

  • A Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing on advanced nuclear reactor commercialization;

  • A House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on the bipartisan Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences Act, with witnesses from the National Forest System, the National Park Service, lobbyists for outdoor recreation industry, and rock climber Sasha DiGiulian and mountaineer Luis Benitez; and

  • A Senate Agriculture nomination hearing for former Virginia agriculture secretary Dr. Basil Gooden to be Undersecretary of Rural Development, and Republican lobbyist Summer Mersinger to be reappointed to the Commodities Future Trading Commission.

Thursday’s other 2 pm hearings include a House Science oversight subcommittee hearing attacking the Biden administration’s proposed Disclosure of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate-Related Financial Risk rule. In particular, this hearing will feature testimony from White House Council on Environmental Quality Chief Sustainability Officer Andrew Mayock, who will be pressed on the administration’s crafting of the rule to use the privately-backed Science Based Targets Initiative organization as the overseer of corporate compliance with the rule. Republicans will, without irony, question why a private organization with extensive ties to industry should be trusted with ensuring compliance to climate targets for industry.2

Also at 2 pm, a House Foreign Affairs hearing on border security, Trump style, with white nationalists Chad Wolf of the ecofascist America First Policy Institute and Gene Hamilton of Stephen Miller’s America First Legal.

1 Which is also wildly corrupt.

2 This is not actually anything unusual; for example, the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute is both the lobbying and political arm of the oil and gas industry and its rule-setting entity. Is it a good model? Well, no.

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