Quarter of billionaires in Cop28 made their fortunes from highly polluting industries

Quarter of billionaires in Cop28 made their fortunes from highly polluting industries

Shafaq News / At least a quarter of the billionaires registered as delegates at Cop28 made their fortunes from highly polluting industries such as petrochemicals, mining and beef production, a new analysis has shown.

The findings, revealed to the Guardian in an exclusive analysis of the 34 billionaires who are signed up to the UN summit, raise concerns about the influence wielded by ultra-rich, mega-emitters on the world’s efforts to tackle the climate crisis. Together the 34 are worth about $495.5bn.

The high number of billionaires at the conference, along with the many private jets they flew in on, suggests Cop may now be second only to Davos as a gathering point for the world’s ultra-rich, who can meet and potentially influence government leaders and senior politicians and bureaucrats, while making deals with other business owners.

The foundation of the Russian oligarch Andrey Melnichenko, for example, is listed as a “climate supporter” on the official Cop28 website, although his companies have reportedly invested $23bn into coal and fertiliser production over the past 15 years. As a close ally of Vladimir Putin and chair of Russia’s committee on climate policy and carbon regulation, Melnichenko is in a powerful position to change Russia’s carbon-intensive economy. He may well be doing that, but his showcase project at Cop is a Pleistocene Park exhibition around a project to restore the woolly mammoth and reverse a 10,000-year-old ecosystem shift.

Melnichenko has faced sanctions by the US and the EU, as has another listed Russian delegate to Cop28, Vagit Alekperov, who owns a 30% stake in the country’s second-biggest oil and gas producer, Lukoil. A Kazakh billionaire delegate, Timur Turlov, who is accused of helping Russian oligarchs evade sanctions through his financial firm, was speaking on a panel about environmental and social governance.

Four of the billionaires have party badges, meaning they can go into the negotiations in the blue zone, while another 11 have host country badges because they were invited by the United Arab Emirates. They include Aliko Dangote, a cement and oil mogul from Nigeria; Mukesh Ambani, the head of an Indian oil and gas conglomerate who is a member of Cop28 presidency’s international advisory panel and the US Microsoft founder Bill Gates, whose nuclear company did a deal with the UAE this week.

While it is widely accepted that business and money need to be part of any climate solution, there are growing concerns that billionaires and companies are taking a disproportionately influential role at the Cop gatherings. As the Guardian revealed in last month’s The Great Carbon Divide, climate inequality is worsening impacts and delaying action.

(The Guardian)

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