The fossil fuel industry, alongside OPEC, Saudi Arabia and its allies in the COP28 presidency, has been engaged in a systematic political and media campaign to derail global efforts to phase out fossil fuels and transition to a clean energy future in the lead up to and during the COP28. These efforts involve a range of tactics like distracting decision-makers from the need for immediate action, greenwashing fossil fuel products as sustainable and environmentally friendly, and misrepresenting carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology as a silver bullet for mitigating climate change.
These tactics have been successful in stalling climate negotiation progress, and has thus far prevented the adoption of ambitious climate action plans. The proposed Global Stocktake text, which is supposed to be the main outcome of COP28, avoids a direct call to phase out fossil fuels and instead emphasizes the development of “zero and low emissions technologies,” including CCS.
This vague language is a clear attempt to appease the industry’s interests and undermine the growing calls for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. By focusing on unproven technologies like CCS, the fossil fuel industry is clearly attempting to prolong its dominance over the global energy sector and delay the inevitable shift to clean energy.
The incorporation of references to CCS and transition fuels in the COP28 Global Stocktake Text underscores the discernible influence of OPEC and the Fossil Fuel Industry on decision-making in Dubai. While these references may amplify greenwashing efforts, it is crucial to bear in mind that the climate science unequivocally declares gas as a methane-heavy fossil fuel, not a transition fuel. The text further emphasizes that CCS is intended particularly for hard-to-abate sectors, emphasizing that it is not a one-size-fits-all solution.
Political and Media Campaigns in the lead up to COP28 in 2023:
- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) government appointed Sultan Al-Jaber as President of the Cop28 climate talks. Al Jaber heads the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), the twelfth largest oil company in the world, and the Emirate’s much smaller renewable energy firm Masdar.
- UAE was the second largest delegation in COP27 with their team including more than 70 gas and oil lobbyists.
- Al Jaber says CCS capacity must rise 30-fold
- UAE planned to use COP28 climate talks to make oil deals
- Saudi Arabia’s grand plan to ‘hook’ poor countries on oil
- Aramco has placed thousands of digital ads, employing greenwashing tactics.
- Fake Twitter ‘blondes’ promote UAE climate summit
- Army of fake social media accounts defend UAE Presidency of climate summit
- Greenwashing Ads: Fossil Fuel giants dominate social media
- Fossil Industry and other polluting industries used “nature rinsing” to mask their role in climate change
- Internal oil industry communications show CCS as the strategic linchpin for more oil and gas development.
- UAE hired the biggest PR firms to buff its climate image
- Business consultancies ramped up promoting CCS (example: Mckinsey one of the top consultancy firms who had worked for 43 of the 100 largest carbon polluters in the world )
- CCS Europe hired ex EU-MP to inform policymakers of the urgent need to deploy CCS technologies to curb CO2 emissions in April 2023.
- Chevron has been running ads and spending 1.8 Million on TikTok that promote CCS and its “renewable gasoline blend.”
- Exxon has scaled up funding think tanks, research institutes and universities to conduct climate research can shift not just research agendas, but also police opinion on false solutions such as CCS
- Big Oil helped shape Stanford’s latest climate-research to focus greenhouse gas removal in 2023
- Opec accused the International Energy Agency (IEA) of “vilifying” the oil and gas industry and attacked climate science reports.
- OPEC’s digital footprint shows that it is promoting fossil fuels as a solution to energy demand and sustainable development, while criticizing the clean energy transition and pushing CCS and blue hydrogen
Political and Media Campaigns during COP28:
- Cop28 President says there is ‘no science’ behind demands for phase-out of fossil fuels
- Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter aimed to distract the fossil fuel phase out discussions in COP28 with only voluntary commitments to reduce operational emissions of the oil and gas industry
- UAE-hosted summit admitted at least 2,456 fossil lobbyists to COP28 and 475 of them are in Dubai to promote carbon-capture as a silver bullet
- On Google, searches for ‘carbon capture’ show greenwashing from Chevron, ExxonMobil, Saudi Aramco and BP at the top of results during COP28.
- At least 1900 Twitter/X bot accounts are being used to promote greenwashing narratives linked to COP28; likely associated with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) during COP28.
- Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told Bloomberg TV that his country would “absolutely not” agree to a deal that calls for a phase-down of fossil fuels.”
- Opec rails against fossil fuel phase-out at Cop28 in leaked letters
- People are googling “climate” and seeing oil and gas greenwashing during the summit as Big Oil placed more than 5000 greenwashing advertisements.
- UAE pays influencers on Instagram to promote COP28 as a successful summit
- Oil is everywhere at COP28, vexing those seeking its demise
- Mckinsey attends COP28 to promote CCS
Quote from Harriet Kingaby
Harriet – CAAD Coalition – head of ACT Climate Labs and Co-chair of Conscious Advertising Network
“Fossil fuel companies and their enablers do not have society’s best interests at heart. This COP, we’ve seen these companies and countries aligned with them position unproven technologies as ‘silver bullets’ to tackle climate action, while simultaneously funding front groups which demonise activists. All designed to keep the status quo. Now we see their influence in the final Global Stocktake Text; references to “transition fuel” and “CCS” may not only jeopardise the climate action but also create spaces for the industry to ramp up greenwashing. We need to stay vigilant and take measures to protect the information integrity on climate change more to prevent such pollution in the media space in the future.”
Notes for Journalists:
About CCS: The concept of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) has garnered attention as a potential tool to combat climate change by capturing and storing carbon dioxide emissions. However, its viability as a comprehensive solution faces significant limitations, including high costs, technical challenges, environmental risks, and the potential for a substitution effect. In this overview, we delve into the intricacies of CCS technologies and explore why, despite its promise, it falls short of being a silver bullet in the broader context of addressing the root causes of climate change.
For more information please visit
Scientists’ reactions to CCS discussions:
Dr. Charles Harvey, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr Harvey has published widely on the physics and chemistry of reactive transport in the subsurface and on issues of geologic carbon sequestration.
“There’s just much less expensive ways to reduce emissions right now. And if we go with the more expensive ways, the net effect is to put more CO2 into the atmosphere, which is going to stay there for thousands of years and require much more expensive negative emission methods in the future. So a simple sort of phrase to describe this is, if your bathtub is overflowing, you don’t reach for the gold plated mop. You just turn off the faucet.e’re in that faucet turning off situation right now.”
Dr. Kurt House, energy sector entrepreneur with a PhD from Harvard University in Earth & Planetary Science.
Dr House’s dissertation was: “On the Physics and Chemistry of Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage in Terrestrial and Marine Environments”
“Today, it (CCS) is simply the high cost solution. We’ve had technological advances particularly in electric, low carbon electricity generation, across the climate tech space. As CCS is now, it was just an idea whose time has passed. It was an interesting conjecture at the time. We did an experiment, we pushed it hard. Not just me, but many people. And that experiment was falsified.”