Extinction Rebellion UK position on COP 28 - Extinction Rebellion UK

Extinction Rebellion UK position on COP 28

For XR UK’s position on COP 28 outcomes, see this post

2023 is set to be the hottest year on record [1], with November likely to be 1.7 to 1.8°C above pre-industrial times. We are not yet exceeding 2 °C as written in the Paris Agreement, but a grim warning came on November 17th as the global temperature temporarily tipped over 2 °C for the very first time on record [2].

Five years ago, XR was told that our warnings about the escalation of the climate and ecological emergency were hysterical, exaggerated and scientifically unfounded. It’s now clear that we were right to sound the alarm. There will be groups from all sides telling us that we cannot talk about 2°C yet, that there’s no scientific evidence and that we haven’t seen the global trends — but we must continue to do so. Under the precautionary principle, which makes us put our seatbelts on in case of an accident, it’s vital we up the pressure because the truth is, that even if it was only for one day, even if temperatures will dip again, 2 °C has been breached and the trend is relentlessly upwards.

In this context — in a world that is as bad, if not worse than we predicted five years ago — we are once again seeing world leaders fly, on their private jets [3], to the next Conference of the Parties (COP) on Climate, COP 28. The conference will take place in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates [4], a nation built almost entirely on fossil fuel wealth. COP28 is led by Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber [5], founder and Chair of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) [6]. which has the largest net-zero busting plans in the world [7]. 

At the same time, indigenous people who work tirelessly to defend their lands —  which contain 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity —  and whose traditional knowledge is key to designing a sustainable future, are excluded from the negotiations [8].

Before it has even begun, it is clear the COP process has been captured by the fossil fuel economy. We are unlikely to see the rapid, just and equitable phaseout of all fossil fuels coming out of this process.

The following are XRUK’s key focus points for COP 28: 

1. Rebel for truth

We will call out our leaders’ climate hypocrisy. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says Britain is a ‘world leader’ on climate, but has vowed to “max out” the UK’s oil and gas reserves, and has approved development of the Rosebank oil field [10], whose output will generate emissions equal to the annual emissions of the 28 poorest countries combined. UN climate negotiations at COP 28 will be presided over by an oil executive in the United Arab Emirates. We won’t let a tiny club of leaders and industrialists in wealthy countries ramp up fossil fuel production, while lecturing the rest of the world on climate action. 

King Charles is set to give the opening address at COP 28 on 1st December. As of today, the British Crown owns 10,762,730 km2 of land globally — this accounts for 7.23% of the land area of the planet. British colonialism was fundamentally rooted in land grabbing, and the consequences persist today. In Canada, 89% of the land is still considered Crown land. The legal frameworks that govern these lands disregard indigenous land rights and legitimise resource extraction. This needs to change [11].

2. We stand with those most affected and with those the least responsible, and demand reparations.

Communities in the Global South are already suffering from the climate and ecological crisis— a crisis which they did not create,  a crisis created by colonialism, exploitation, centuries of injustice and unjust debt. With all these constraints, there can be no climate and ecological justice. It is clear that those responsible, be they nations, companies or financial institutions need to uphold their financial responsibility and pay the costs of what they have caused.

  • Climate finance grants must be honoured
    The rich world agreed to provide climate finance of $100bn per year as payment towards the adaptation and mitigation costs of climate change imposed on countries of the Global South. This sum has never been reached [12].
  • A fairly run Loss and Damage fund must be set up urgently
    ‘Loss and Damage’ refers to the destruction being caused by climate change. The Loss and Damage fund must be independent, democratically-governed, and non-debt-creating [13].
  • Debt cancellation
    In view of the immense climate debt owed to the Global South, the way in which debt has been used as a tool of oppression and the current debt crisis, Global South debt should be cancelled [14].
  • A fair process: fast, fair, forever.
    Those affected by the climate and ecological emergency, and those who should be recipients of financial support, need to have a seat at the negotiating table to ensure that whatever measures are put in place are fair and truly just for the people they are meant to support. That means an end to greenwashing and false, harmful and unproven ‘solutions’ through which the fossil fuel industry gives itself licence to continue killing, polluting and profiting  — and instead, truly effective solutions. 

3. If COP 28 is so bad, why not ignore it? 

To ignore COP is to display our minority world arrogance and play into the hands of the system we are trying to fix.  Those in power have designed COP to their advantage — of course they want us to ignore it.  Many majority world countries have no choice but to work with the United Nations (UN) because it is the only space that comes close to global democracy in which their voices have a presence.
The G77 [20] will be there, and in Brazil, President Lula is calling for an Amazon COP in 2030; many movements come to COP trying to push for justice. 

So XRUK’s position is: Yes, COP 28 is not good enough, but it’s all we’ve got.

#RebelForTruth #FastFairForever #EndFossilFuels #NowWeRise #NoMoreFossilFuels #GetBigOilOutOfCOP



COPs, or Conferences of the Parties, are climate change conferences run by the UN. At a COP, all parties who signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change come together [4]. The first COP was held in 1995. 

The reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which inform us all on the state of the climate, were initiated by and are organised through the UN [16]. Theoretically, COPs are independent and participants represent the 198 countries that ratified the Convention [9].

Unfortunately, at least 636 lobbyists from the oil and gas industries registered to attend COP 27 last year — an increase of 25% over the previous year and more delegates than from almost any country.  

And at COP 28 we have a president who is the CEO of a state-owned oil company. Fluent in greenwash, this does not deter him from pretending to be the saviour of the planet.



As a result of action by the rich world, the poor world now needs to adapt to a climate it didn’t change, by transitioning to a new energy source.

Oxfam calculated that the poorest 50% of the planet emits just 7% of the carbon in the sky, whilst the richest 1% are responsible for 15%, more than double.   The richest 10% of the planet, (which most of us are by dint of living in the UK) account for 52% of global emissions.

In Jason Hickel’s analysis the 39 countries from the Global North had used up their collective fair share of the 350 p.p.m. carbon budget by 1969, overshot their 1.5 °C fair share by 1986 and surpassed their 2 °C fair share by 1995 [17].

Meanwhile, the 129 countries from the Global South in the analysis, which are home to more than 80% of the total global population, will remain within the 1.5 °C carbon budget until at least 2048. 

And yet, those who have done the least to cause this crisis are suffering the most. As Jason Hickel comments on the results, “It would be difficult to overstate the scale of this injustice”.

In recognition of the immense costs of adapting to new conditions and transitioning to green energy because of what others have caused, climate finance has actually been agreed and is supposed to have been paid since 2020. It was set at $100bn per year (far too low) but that amount has never been reached, and more importantly, 71% of what is paid is paid as loans — with interest, which all need to be paid back. The banks are profiting and the poor are becoming ever more heavily indebted [12].


Many of the catastrophes hitting countries of the Global South are not situations to which they can adapt: this is termed Loss and Damage. Take the displacement of 33 million people in Pakistan in 2022; or the fact that drought in East Africa is now 100 times more likely due to climate change; or the loss of whole islands in the Pacific, along with the culture and traditions they sustained. The list would now, sadly, take many hours to enumerate.

To begin to recognise the immense costs of what is being lost or damaged, has taken 28+ years of campaigning — just to get COP 27 to agree to look into a Loss and Damage Fund. The obstructions put in the way of this agreement should alert us all to the fear in the eyes of the perpetrators. This is about climate reparations and people are beginning to calculate it.

Of course the fossil fuel industry is at fault, of course the governments of the Global North are at fault. We need to assume that and call for Loss and Damage to be paid. 

BEWARE!  The powers of the Global North are up to their usual tricks, calling for the World Bank to run the Loss and Damage Fund.  But the World Bank is about loans, imposing austerity and opening markets to the fossil fuel industry. The Loss and Damage Fund is currently under discussion and the US has a proposal that is unsurprisingly staggeringly unfair. 

The Loss and Damage Fund must be independent, democratically-governed, and non-debt-creating [13].


Debt for Climate has calculated the difference between the climate debt of the Global North, estimated to be $7.9 trillion per year, and the financial debt repayments of the Global South, estimated at $211 bn per year.   The climate debt is at least 65 times greater [21], making mass debt default, or repudiation, or cancellation, an obvious and fair way forward — especially given the immense pain and cost of climate change (adaptation, transition, loss, damage) imposed on the Global South by the overconsumption of the Global North. Debt cancellation would also make it harder for fossil fuel companies to march into the Global South waving foreign currency contracts demanding payment of unfair, absurd debt, putting another obstacle in the road of the murderous fossil fuel perpetrators [14].


  1. We need a trusted leader representing the most affected people and areas (MAPA) — the president of COP 28 should be dismissed

Sultan Al Jaber’s ascent to the highest levels of climate diplomacy began 16 years ago. From 2007 to 2009, Edelman, the largest public relations firm in the world, carried out a $6.4 million campaign to boost the green reputation of the United Arab Emirates (UEA). According to new data, the state oil company of the UEA, ADNOC, whose CEO will preside over UN climate negotiations, has the largest net-zero-busting expansion plans [7] of any company in the world. In 2030 — the year by which the United Nations says planet-heating carbon emissions must be slashed by 45%[19], ADNOC is forecast to spend $13.2 billion on oil and gas alone — a 43% increase compared with current levels.  Global Witness has found that Al Jaber’s company is planning to spend more than $100 billion between now and 2030 on oil and gas production alone — that’s an average of $1.14 billion every month, and nearly seven times more than its planned ‘low-carbon solutions’ spend over the same period.  

More than 130 lawmakers from the European Union and the US wrote a strongly-worded letter to the UN in May 2023 calling for the removal of Al Jaber as president of COP 28. He is still centre stage [5].

We are at the stage where, despite IPCC data [16] and annual COP climate meetings, not one of 39 major global oil and gas companies, with a collective market capitalization of $3.7 trillion, has adopted a business strategy that would limit warming to safe levels. Meanwhile, the global oil and gas industry is expanding amid blockbuster profits to the tune of $4 trillion last year.  The sector has poured $160 billion into exploration for new fossil reserves since 2020, even as the International Energy Agency has stated that no new fossil fuel projects are compatible with limiting warming to 1.5 °C.

  • $170bn has been spent by the industry on exploration for new oil and gas reserves since 2021.
  • 96% of the 700 companies that explore or develop new oil and gas fields are continuing to do so.
  • More than 1,000 companies are planning new gas pipelines, gas-fired power plants or liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals.
  1. Fair representation so the decisions made by the majority world are “locked in” and can not be ignored by the Global North.
  2. Effective measures to lock out fossil fuel lobbyists/associates must be put in place

This would mean that countries of the Global North that are also oil states have observer, not voting, rights and that countries of the Global South with known oil reserves have limited voting rights [8].

COP has, of course, been rigged for a long time: IPIECA (International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association) was set up in 1974 by request of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide a combined fossil fuel industry response to environmental issues — but is being used by Big Oil to increasingly exert its malign influence over the COP climate talks. 

IPIECA   (International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association International)
COP has, of course, been rigged for a long time: IPIECA, based in London, was set up in 1974 by request of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide a combined fossil fuel industry response to environmental issues but is being used by Big Oil to increasingly exert its malign influence over the COP climate talks. IPIECA members include Eni, Repsol, BP, SLB, Total, Shell and the infamous climate denier ExxonMobil [15].


[1] 2023 is set to be the hottest year on record

[2] A grim warning as the global temperature temporarily tipped over 2°C
“ERA5 data from @CopernicusECMWF indicates that 17 November was the first day that the global temperature exceeded 2°C above pre-industrial levels, reaching 2.07°C above the 1850-1900 average and the provisional ERA5 value for 18 November is 2.06°C.”

“This month the global average temperature exceeded 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels for the first time. @ourANU ICEDS Director @ProfMarkHowden explains what this means and what we need to be focussing on.”

IMPORTANT NOTE: Aaron Thierry, XR Scientists.
“Really important to note this is not the same as exceeding 2C as written in the Paris Agreement”

[3] Flight Operations to COP28 Dubai COP28 UAE will take place at Dubai’s Expo City from November 30 – December 12, 2023, with government leaders and dignitaries from all over the globe descending on Dubai for the historic event.
Operations to COP 28 in Dubai
Jetluxe – Your gateway to COP 28

[4] COP 28 UAE:
A visual guide: COP 28 explainer infographic

[5] About Sultan Al Jaber:
i. The Guardian: Meet the oil man tasked with saving the planet
ii. The Guardian: COP 28 host UAE planned promote oil deals climate talks
iii. Letter calling for the dismissal of Al Jaber, from US Congress and EU Parliament Members

[6] Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)

[7] COP 28 host UAE has world’s biggest climate-busting oil plans.

[8] Lands inhabited by Indigenous Peoples contain 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity. Indigenous Peoples’ traditional knowledge and knowledge systems are key to designing a sustainable future for all.
i. IISD: Indigenous peoples defending environment
ii. AXIOS: Indigenous activists “seen, not heard” at COP 27
iii. The Independent: Fossil fuel delegates attended Cops at least 7,200 times over 20 years – study

[9] About the UNFCC

[10] Calling out our leaders’ climate hypocrisy
i. Now We Rise – Climate Justice Coalition
ii. Rishi Sunak vows to max out UK reserves and approves Rosebank
iii. The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has announced UK is no longer a world leader on climate issues
iv. CCC Progress Report

[11] The biggest landowners of today are yesterday’s colonisers

[12] Climate Finance Grants must be honoured – $100Bn pledge not met.
i. BBC Climate finance: How to spend 100bn to save the climate
ii. Oxfam: Rich countries’ failure to honour their climate finance promise threatens negotiations and undermines climate action

[13] Loss and Damage Fund

[14] About Debt Cancellation:
i. Global Action for Debt Cancellation
ii. Debt for Climate

[17] Jason Hickel “Quantifying national responsibility for climate breakdown: an equality-based attribution approach for carbon dioxide emissions in excess of the planetary boundary”

[18] About Edelman

[19] Emissions Gap Report

[15] About IPIECA

i. Climate activists target Big Oil lobby group to highlight its stranglehold on COP28.
ii. Cancel global south debt and deliver £7.9 trillion in climate reparations now
iii. Video: Reject Sultan Al-Jaber as President of COP28 because he is CEO of ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) and reject IPIECA, the fossil fuel industry’s ‘channel of engagement’ with COP, and epicentre of fossil fuel greenwash.
iv. IPIECA (International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association International)
IPIECA Funding: “Ipieca is funded by corporate and associate member companies via an annual contribution according to a formula based on relative production and geographic spread of operations.”
v. Relationship with UN
vi. Resources from recent XR actions https://linktr.ee/cop28greenwash

[16] IPCC Reports

[20] G77 The Group of 77 (G77) at the United Nations (UN) is a coalition of 135 countries, designed to promote its members’ collective economic interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the United Nations.

[21] Climate justice activists gathered outside the Bank of England on 12 October 2023 to demonstrate how the Global South’s crippling debt repayments are 65 times smaller than the staggering $7.9 trillion in climate reparations owed to them by the countries of the Global North.

Related topics

Climate Change Climate summit COP COP28 System change

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