Credits By: WAM
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced that it will permit environmental activists to have their voices heard and peacefully assemble during this year’s UN climate talks. The decision was disclosed in a joint statement with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) released Tuesday.
The UAE, known for its oil-rich economy and one of the world’s top CO2 emitters per capita, is set to host COP28 in Dubai from November to December. While official permission is required for demonstrations in the country, protests that authorities consider disruptive are effectively prohibited.
The joint statement followed the signing of a bilateral agreement between UNFCCC chief Simon Stiell and COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber, establishing the legal framework for organizing and hosting the climate talks.
They have still emphasized the commitment to uphold UN values during COPs and ensure that the voices of various groups, including youth, women, local communities, Indigenous Peoples, and those most impacted by climate change, are heard and reflected in the process.
However, the decision to have the UAE host COP28 has been criticized by environmental groups. Concerns have been raised that the involvement of an oil-exporting nation might impede progress in the global fight against climate change.
Critics have also questioned the nomination of Sultan al-Jaber, CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co, to preside over the talks, citing potential conflicts of interest. Al-Jaber has faced accusations of not adequately addressing the need to phase out fossil fuels, with a focus on reducing fossil fuel emissions instead.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had previously urged countries to initiate the phase-out of oil, gas, and coal, emphasizing that the issue lies with fossil fuel emissions and fossil fuels.
Environmental and human rights groups have also expressed concerns about restrictions on freedom of expression in the UAE, which could hinder the meaningful participation of climate activists during COP28. These groups fear that the UAE’s recent regulations on journalists, activists, human rights defenders, civil society, youth groups, and indigenous representatives may impede their full involvement in the conference.
Previous COP events have witnessed large protests, but some limited rallies were permitted during the last UN climate talks in Egypt. However, authorities in Egypt have regularly cracked down on demonstrations and detained activists, raising further concerns about potential restrictions in the UAE.