March 23, 2023

Energy Bosses Shame Obama’s Climate Pledges

It’s not just Americans who are feeling the squeeze of rising oil prices. The president of China, Xi Jinping, has been trying to persuade world leaders to come together in a joint effort to combat climate change. But many countries have been hesitant for fear that they will be at a disadvantage due to their reliance on fossil fuels. As President Obama is set to meet with Chinese officials this week in Beijing, one group of powerful people have made it clear that they don’t approve: the energy bosses from various energy producing nations around the world.

A group of seven business and energy leaders representing the world’s largest oil and gas companies, and two chief executives from coal companies, was recently included in a guest list for a private round-table discussion with Chinese officials. The Daily Telegraph reported that the energy bosses were furious to find out about Xi Jinping’s planned climate talks with Obama. Their complaints to Xi Jinping resulted in the energy bosses being kicked out of the summit, but not until after they did a lot of damage by briefing Chinese officials about why an agreement was a bad idea for them and their business interests.

The Telegraph piece is behind a paywall, but it has been reported that the energy company bosses told Chinese officials about how much their profits would suffer if they agreed to take steps to combat climate change. The oil and gas moguls also reportedly noted how reliant China’s economy is on fossil fuels, which should make it difficult for them to shift away from these dirty sources of energy anytime soon.

The Telegraph wrote that the energy bosses from nations including Russia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar met with Chinese vice premier Zhang Gaoli as part of an event hosted by the China Development Forum. In total, around 30 executives from various industries attended this meeting, which took place on Tuesday in Beijing.

The guest list also included top business executives from Brazil, Russia and India.

The purpose of the round-table conversation was to discuss how to better connect China with other countries in pursuit of a shared goal: building a more equitable world economy. But it didn’t take long for this conversation to turn into criticism of Xi Jinping’s efforts to push for a global agreement on climate change. The Telegraph reported that the discussion started off as planned, but it soon became very heated as the energy bosses began speaking out against Xi Jinping’s plans to negotiate with Obama over increasing restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.

The executive from one Russian oil firm reportedly said that an agreement backed by Obama would be bullshit. A representative from another oil firm chimed in and said that the idea of climate change was a fraud, and that Xi Jinping could not commit to anything meaningful at this week’s conference with Obama.

Representatives from coal companies joined in on the criticism, arguing that it would be better to not sign any agreement than to sign one that the Chinese people might not approve of.

The criticism appeared to get Xi Jinping’s attention, and he called on his staff to escort all of these executives out of the room before they had a chance to further question his commitment to fighting climate change.