Al Jaber
Sultan Al Jaber

Head over heels over COP28. Former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan used the term “irrational exuberance” during the 1990s bubble to warn about the overvalued stock market.

The same term can be used to explain the media’s glowing coverage of the COP28 climate change agreement.

The Economist heralded it as a “landmark deal,” while the Wall Street Journal said it sent “an unprecedented signal to the global economy that governments are intent on cutting back on coal, oil and natural gas in the fight against global warming.”

The New York Times weighed in by reporting that the global pact calls for “transitioning away from fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal that are dangerously heating the planet.”

Part of the giddy coverage stems from staging COP28 in the United Arab Emirates with the proceedings overseen by the head of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company Sultan Al Jaber.

His company is committed to spending $150B in drilling projects during the next five years. And Al Jaber famously said that ending the fossil fuel era would require the world to go back to living in caves.

The UAE and Al Jaber cleared the very low bar that had been set for COP28.

Environmental champion and former Vice President Al Gore highlighted the “inconvenient truth” about the COP28 agreement

It’s nice that COP28 finally recognized that the climate crisis, is at heart, a fossil fuels crisis, which is an important milestone, he posted on X.

The much ballyhooed COP28 accord though is the bare minimum and long overdue.

Gore noted that the influence of petrostates is plainly evident in the half measures and loopholes included in the final agreement.

Those petrostates and allies like Saudi Aramco, PetroChina, ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, Shell and TotalEnergies are going to use their massive PR machines to make sure that fossil fuels aren’t going to be phased out anytime soon.

Picking up where they left off… The royals at the United Arab Emirates just couldn’t control themselves. They didn’t wait until delegates at COP28 left Dubai before reverting to their horrendous human rights record.

The UAE issued new terrorism charges against about 90 imprisoned activists on Dec. 7 as climate delegates were desperately trying to hammer out a plan to phase out fossil fuels.

James Lynch, co-director of the FairSquare human rights organization, said the timing of the arrests while COP28 was in session “beggars belief.”

He noted “charges on this scale in the middle of the talks, when UAE is under the global spotlight, is a giant slap in the face to the country’s human rights community and the COP process.”

It also indicates that the UAE doesn’t give a fig about concerns over its dreadful human rights record.

COP28 though is just a warm-up for next year’s session slated for Azerbaijan.

Amnesty International says of Azerbaijan: “Freedom of expression, assembly and association remained severely restricted as authorities carried out arbitrary arrests and politically motivated prosecutions of civil society activists, crushed peaceful protests and hindered the work of independent organizations and media outlets.”

One has to wonder what the United Nations was thinking when it awarded COP28 and COP29 to serial human rights abusers.

Drill, baby, drill… Donald Trump has promised that on the first day of his dictatorship he will slam the southern border shut and give the order to drill, drill, drill for oil, as if President Biden has banned energy projects in the US.

Where has Trump been? While Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act provides a massive boost for renewable energy, the President has pushed US oil companies to step up production on the home front in an effort to reduce gas prices and get inflation down.

The US is producing a record 13.2M barrels of oil a day, which is far more than Saudi Arabia. That is up 800,000 barrels a day since 2022. Another 500,000 barrels a day are expected to come on line in the 2024 presidential election year.

Trump needs to revamp his to-do list.

Despicable JD. Ohio’s performative Senator JD Vance dismissed the visit to Washington of the 21st century’s greatest freedom fighter as “disgraceful” and “grotesque.”

The Buckeye Blowhard is outraged that Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky is “lecturing us and demanding more American taxpayer dollars.”

He takes issue with Zelensky’s view that US politicos who want to pull the plug on Ukraine are puppets of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

"If you want to secure your border first, you are actually a Putin puppet,” Vance said of Zelensky’s remark.

JD is a fanboy of Donald Trump, who is Putin’s No. 1 puppet.

What is disgraceful and grotesque is the Republican linkage of tight control over the southern border and assistance to Ukraine.

The debate over immigration policy has gone on for years. Zelensky and the Ukrainian people don’t enjoy the luxury of time to sit back and watch the GOP theatrics.

There’s a war for survival going on.

Positively paranoid in 2024….Business leaders will face challenges in the upcoming year, some of which will come as a complete surprise.

That’s why Lars Faeste, chair of FTI Consulting’s EMEA unit, recommends a “positive paranoia” approach.

“Through proactive risk management, investment in areas of vulnerability, and a heightened sense of curiosity, senior leaders can use this mindset to ensure that their business is resilient to future shocks and has the ability to innovate,” he wrote in a Dec. 15 essay.

Faeste noted that so-called “black swan” events require immediate attention, diverting the focus from day-to-day operations management. They make a dramatic impact.

An FTI survey of 100 black swan events found that 32 percent of executives lost their jobs, $200B in market capitalization was wiped out, and 14 companies went out of business in the aftermath.

Faeste points out that given the variety of modern-day crises — from cyber attacks and competitive misconduct to government investigations and financial sanctions — the probability that a major company will face zero crises over the next five years is almost zero.

That’s not paranoia. That’s just the cold hard reality waiting for CEOs in 2024.

Happy New Year.