Beyond Borders and Billionaires at COP28: Rethinking Elite Accountability for Climate Justice

Beyond Borders and Billionaires at COP28: Rethinking Elite Accountability for Climate Justice

At least of 25% of the billionaires who participated as representatives at COP28 have amassed their wealth through sectors like petrochemicals, mining, and beef production. The collective net worth of the 34 billionaires that were present totaled approximately $495.5 billion.


The global community is currently facing twin conundrums of the escalating climate crisis and the widening wealth inequality. Strikingly, it is the richest individuals, corporations, and nations who contribute the most to greenhouse gas emissions, thereby endangering our planet. Meanwhile, it is those already experiencing hardship—such as the impoverished, marginalized communities, and countries in the Global South—who bear the brunt of these adverse effects. Furthermore, among these vulnerable groups, women, girls, Indigenous Peoples, and others facing discrimination suffer disproportionately. Though the consequences of climate change affect people worldwide, it is only the wealthiest who possess the resources, power, and means to shield themselves from its fallout. Such an advantage brings with it immense responsibility. Notably, the adverse effects become even more pronounced when economic inequality intersects with other forms of disadvantages, such as gender, ethnicity, and age. Consequently, an incredibly unjust reality takes shape: wealthy individuals and affluent nations are essentially steering the climate crisis, while those grappling with poverty, marginalization, and low-income circumstances are bearing the heaviest burdens.

Global Billionaire wealth at COP28

Approximately one-fourth of the billionaires who had registered as delegates for COP28 have garnered their immense wealth from industries like petrochemicals, mining, and beef production. When combining the net worth of all 34 billionaires in attendance, an astounding sum of around $495.5 billion is reached.

The attendance of multiple billionaires at COP28, coupled with their utilization of private jets, raises valid concerns about the perception of the summit as an event catering to the world’s ultra-rich. Such a gathering may create avenues for these individuals to exert influence over government leaders, politicians, and business associates, potentially shaping climate policy decisions. Moreover, instances where billionaire delegates have business connections with the host nations, as seen in the collaboration between Egyptian investor Nassef Sawiris and the UAE’s Adnoc for “blue ammonia” exploration, bring attention to potential conflicts of interest and underscore the importance of transparency in such partnerships.

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