COP28 & Blue Carbon use Article 6 of the Paris Agreement to falsely manipulate green credentials


NB: citations & references are noted below

The primary role of the COP meetings is to deliver progress towards the overall goal of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) established as an international environmental treaty to combat 'dangerous human interference with the climate system', in part by stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.


Of course it is worrying that head of one of the largest oil companies in the world is chairing the COP28 committee, Mr Sultan Al Jaber who is also the Chairman of ADNOC. The arguments for & against this conflict of interest are clear, but when coupled with the Blue Carbon Africa project being announced it all feels rather diversionary to whats really going on. Leaked documents now exposed by the BBC [6] clearly show that the UAE is planning to use climate talks to make oil deals, while the UN body responsible for the COP framework clearly states that hosts are expected to act without bias or self-interest. COP28 is the UN's latest round of global climate talks. This year it is being hosted by the UAE in Dubai and is due to be attended by 167 world leaders, including the Pope and King Charles III.

Further worry about the integrity of COP28 is the announcement of Blue Carbon, a company founded by Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum a senior member of the ruling royal family of Dubai. The firm has employed an Italian Mr Landi who has been convicted twice of backruptcy fraud and considered a fugitive in Italy along with Andrea Vigano an ex BlackRock (Italy) head to sit on the board of directors advising the Emirati start-up. Blue Carbon [4] is currently buying up huge swathes of land in Africa with the aim of making carbon credit deals using Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. After the Verra [1] scandal, these carbon credits are a proven failure that merely disguise a corporation or nations carbon footprint, something that is now commonly termed 'Green Washing'. 

Mr Landi has ignored several warrants for his arrest, living extradition free on a floating barge island off the Gulf and yet he advises on the carbon offsetting market. While ahead of COP28, Blue Carbon is signing multi billion dollar deals to take over vast areas of forested & water covered land in various African countries with the aim of selling them as carbon credits from their conservation & management under a mechanism established by the UN under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, these are called  Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes (ITMOs), they can be traded by governments or corporations to achieve their emission reduction goals.

blue carbon ahead of COP28 are signing huge land deals in Africa to GreenWash industry & nations
image taken from BlueCarbonDXD offical instagram account.


Mr Landi, on paper appears to be the owner of a cybersecurity firm making encrypted cipher phones. In his native country, Mr Landi is a wanted man with current warrants for his arrest, convicted in two separate trials relating to bankruptcy fraud that embroiled and sank of one of Italy’s largest telecommunications companies Eutelia leaving thousands of people without a job & missing pension payments.

Whilst I have no direct interest either in Mr Landi or Mr Vigano, their backgrounds, or their advisory role in Blue Carbon, but it does fuel real and tangible concern over the integrity of a company bidding to become the largest player in a sector already plagued by environmental and social risks & responsibilities. Also on the Blue Carbon board is Andrea Vigano who for 2 decades was a chairman of BlackRock Italy at the time of their many scandals over the past 2 decades. BlackRock is a majority stakeholder of global industry infrastructure that includes oil and gas investments, technology, banking and weapons manufacturing.

Multiple independant reviews of BlackRock's investment stategy have shown that, as a direct result of decisions made by (BlackRock/MSCI), Americans have been unwittingly funding PRC (People's Republic of China) companies that develop and build weapons for the People's Liberation Army (PLA) that could in time be used against the United States. There are also verified independent sources that confirm BlackRock’s investment strategy and corporate governance practices drive business operations that directly harm Black and Indigenous communities and people of colour around the world. Carbon offsetting is an accounting scam enabled by complicit organisations & governments to mislead consumers. I would imagine that having a team with green credentials and a clean track record of sound ethical behaviour on the board would at least send the right signal ahead of COP28 opening its doors. I am writing this article to express my genuine concerns for indigenous communities in Africa who know nothing of their land & water being sold from under their feet.

Samuele Landi a convicted fraudster on the advisory board of Blue Carbon 
Convicted of criminal fraud Mr Landi sits on the board of Blue Carbon helping global polluters greenwash their activities.


Currently Blue Carbon is hailing the success of Liberia as one of the first African countries to have signed memorandums of understanding with Blue Carbon in the run-up to Cop28. Along with the governments of Kenya, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania these deals will see the UAE firm controlling more than 30 million hectares of forests across these countries. Zimbabwe in particular is set to hand over controlling rights to one fifth of its total landmass. Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, chairman of Blue Carbon is a senior member of the Ruling Royal Family of Dubai and his fiscal power is no match for the impoverished nations he is buying up wholesale with every intention of turning a divisive green profit.

from the series 'Oil + Water' investigating climate change in the forests of Siberia
'Archytas' dated 2015 from the series 'Oil + Water' investigating the effects of climate change in the forests of Siberia


Blue Carbon states on its website [4] that it plans to set up forestry protection schemes, produce carbon offsets on a vast scale and sell them to polluting governments and companies. Operating under a new mechanism established by Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which is set to transform carbon markets. Blue Carbon aims to trade a specific type of credit, internationally transferred mitigation outcomes (ITMOs), that can be used by governments to achieve emission reduction goals set out in their nationally determined contributions.

Alexandra Benjamin, who is a forest governance campaigner at Fern [2], calls Blue Carbon’s plans ‘a new scramble for Africa. These deals, mostly struck under a veil of secrecy, aren’t just bad news for the climate, but for the lives and livelihoods of rural African communities, whose land & heritage rights are threatened by them’

Indigenous groups have genuine fears that communities will be forced to make way for the projects, losing control over land that constitutes their primary livelihoods. A great number of earlier forest protection carbon credit offsetting projects such as the one proposed have already been suspended following allegations of abuse and forced evictions, with carbon offsets projects directly linked to high forest loss & logging that are still on sale today. Schemes such as Verra [1] have been selling billions of Euros of voluntary carbon offset credits every year, over 90% of which were investigated & proven to have no green credentials whatsoever and were deemed 'Completely Worthless' [1].

Verra in 2022 experienced several detailed investigations that for nearly 2 decades proved the world’s leading carbon credit certifier used by the likes of Disney, Shell, Gucci and many other big corporations made 'false & misleading' climate claims, ultimately having the exact opposite effect of their primary intentions.

GreenPeace has stated [3] that 'Carbon offsetting is a scammer’s dream scheme. A bookkeeping trick intended to obscure participants climate wrecking-emissions aimed at distracting the public from ecosystem destruction.'

The scheme would see little money actually ending up in the hands of African governments and local communities, contrary to what the mechanism is set up to achieve. 

All of this undermines the primary intentions of the COP framework, at COP28 the UAE's Minister for Industry &  Climate Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the President-Designate of COP28 is also the chairman of Masdar and Group CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) producing 3.1 million barrels of oil per day, and 9.6 billion cubic feet of raw gas per day, making them the one of the largest carbon polluters in the world.

In the UAE, there is no formal commitment to free speech. It is not permitted to be in any way critical of the government, its policies, government officials, police and the royal families. Any attempt to form public debate or protest against any issue whatsoever, is always met with severe action.  Human rights organisations have long complained about documented violations of human rights in Dubai. Most notably, of the 350,000 foreign labourers in the city building their rapidly expanding infrastructure that live in conditions described by Human Rights Watch [5] as "less than humane". The UAE is known for carrying out threats, harassment, surveillance, and coercion. According to human rights groups, government authorities continued to engage in efforts to intimidate or exact reprisal against any individuals inside or outside of the country, including relatives of political prisoners detained in the country and dissidents living abroad.

We each have our own reasoning for what we believe in as being important today. For 30 years I have tried to reduce my carbon & chemical footprint both personally and in the studio. In 2004 I was compelled to resign from a long standing client Versace, when I attended a meeting where I was invited to shoot all the imagery and collateral for the new Palazzo Versace in Dubai. This was a good contract for the studio after fulfilling the same for the Palazzo Versace Australia a few years earlier. During that meeting I saw for the first time the design plans for the new hotel showing it was to have a 900 metre stretch of beach refrigerated so that hotel guests did not burn their feet while walking across the sand. To me this was unacceptable, consuming such vast amounts of non-renewable energy resources in this way for the occasional comfortable footprint seemed insane. It was like making the largest outdoor fridge in the world, and then leaving the door open, or worse still not even building the door, our ideologies and ethical principles were no longer aligned.


the reckless corporate behaviour of Palazzo Versace in refrigerating their beach so guests will not burn their feet 
The reckless moral behaviour of the Palazzo Versace, Dubai. Refrigerating a large beach.

With the unprecedented volume of carbon credits suggested as being created by Blue Carbon, the intention is clear; to greenwash oil and gas operations without providing any meaningful emission reductions - burn and buy trees is not a solution. Forestry carbon offset programs have been hotly debated after a series of articles and scientific studies casting verifiable doubts over their climate integrity. Catching carbon is not and never will be the solution, a reduction of carbon emissions is the only way forward, and no accountant or oil soaked bag of money can fix the problems that this blind commercialism is already bringing. 

I hope you found this article informative. I only write about the studio and my work, the processes involved and on matters of water conservation, corporate transparency and the potential for a circular economy.

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[1] www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/mar/10/biggest-carbon-credit-certifier-replace-rainforest-offsets-scheme-verra-aoe
[2] www.fern.org/
[3] www.greenpeace.org/international/story/50689/carbon-offsets-net-zero-greenwashing-scam/
[4] bluecarbon.ae/team/
[5] www.hrw.org/middle-east/north-africa/united-arab-emirates
[6] www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-67508331