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UAE’s efforts to stifle debate at COP28 threaten

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Reacting to reports that the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as host of the COP28 climate meeting which begins in Dubai in November, has defined a narrow list of talking points for its officials around climate issues and is aiming to avoid discussion of human rights abuses in the country, Marta Schaaf, Amnesty International’s Director of Climate, Economic and Social Justice, and Corporate Accountability programme, said:

“The escalating climate crisis is a very significant threat to people and their rights globally so the United Arab Emirates should be engaging in meaningful change to bring about a rapid end to the use of fossil fuels. Instead, the UAE’s priority at COP28 appears to be greenwashing its fossil fuel expansion plans and massaging its own reputation by seeking to avoid discussion of its dismal human rights record and continuing abuses.”

The UAE’s priority at COP28 appears to be greenwashing its fossil fuel expansion plans and massaging its own reputation by seeking to avoid discussion of its dismal human rights record and continuing abuses.”

Marta Schaaf, Amnesty International’s Director of Climate, Economic and Social Justice, and Corporate Accountability programme

“The UAE has pledged to hold an inclusive COP, but this ambition will fall flat if it limits public debate to carefully scripted talking points. In fact, reports that its officials are trying to narrowly define the debate only heightens our concerns that the UAE has misjudged the urgency of the climate crisis and seeks to accommodate the interests of the fossil fuel industry, which writes off current and future human rights violations associated with fossil fuels as the ‘cost of doing business’.”

“It is similarly hard to imagine an inclusive COP when the UAE’s draconian and ill-defined laws allow for the arrest of almost anyone expressing dissent, the suppression and continued detention of critics and political opponents, and the criminalization of same-sex relationships.”

“To avert a full-scale climate catastrophe, it is vital that this COP agrees to bring the fossil fuel era to a swift and just end. It must also agree to climate finance commitments that protect communities and ensure that the climate loss and damage fund agreed to at the previous COP becomes operational and effective. Negotiators must act in the interest of human rights, not the priorities of the fossil fuel companies seeking to influence COP.”

Background

The 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is scheduled to be held in Dubai between 30 November and 12 December.

The Centre for Climate Reporting has obtained a recording of a COP28 strategy meeting, which follows a leak last month of a strategy document.

Amnesty International has previously expressed opposition to Sultan Al Jaber presiding over this critical meeting while he heads ADNOC, the UAE’s state oil company, which has ambitious plans to expand its production of hydrocarbons.

It is more than a decade since the authorities in the United Arab Emirates sentenced 60 members of Emirati civil society to lengthy prison terms in a mass trial. None of the individuals have been released, even though 55 of them have completed their sentence. Amnesty International continues to call for their release.

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