Instagram Influencers Paid to Boost UAE’s Climate Credentials Over COP28

Instagram Influencers Paid to Boost UAE’s Climate Credentials Over COP28

The individuals who spoke to DeSmog said they were ‘deeply disappointed’ by the summit and had not fully understood the relationship between UAE and the organisers.

Social media influencers were paid to boost the UAE’s climate credentials in and around COP28 in what appears to be a coordinated PR effort by the oil-dependent host nation, DeSmog can reveal.

Instagram videos of glamorous couples lounging on sun-filled beaches or giving quirky outfit tutorials were used to spread positive messaging about the COP process and the UAE’s position on climate, as the critical UN talks progressed in Dubai.

Two of the contracted influencers confirmed to DeSmog they were paid by an external PR company hired by the COP28 official team.

The summit closed on 13 December with an historic agreement to limit fossil fuel use, which the Emirates has coined the ‘UAE consensus’. But the text was criticised by small island states, campaigners and scientists for failing to call for a rapid phase out of oil, gas and coal and being “full of loopholes”.

Reports of the fossil fuel interests of the host country dominated much of the media coverage of the summit.

COP28 president Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, also chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), was revealed to have planned to make oil and gas deals on the sidelines of COP. In the run-up to the UN talks, DeSmog revealed that the PR company Edelman, which has worked extensively with the fossil fuel industry, had helped to secure Al Jaber’s ascension to COP president.

New research by the Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD) group, shared with DeSmog, suggests the host nation was behind a significant social media push to improve their online image to a younger generation.

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