Dangerous gas. The burning of waste gas during oil drilling, known as flaring, is causing a much bigger problem than anyone though. This happens all across the Gulf, including in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who happen to be hosting COP28.
A Worsening Situation
According to new research, the pollution from this flaring isn’t staying put—it’s spreading for hundreds of miles, messing up the air quality in the whole region. And this news arrives just as the UAE is about to host the UN’s big climate summit.
A Ban That’s Not Really a Ban
The UAE said no to routine flaring 20 years ago, but guess what? Satellite images show it’s still happening, despite how bad it is for the health of folks living there and in the neighboring countries.
No Comment Zone
BBC Arabic checked out gases from wells in Iraq, Iran, and Kuwait too. But when they reached out for comment, those countries either said nothing or just didn’t respond.
Big Names in the Mix
Big oil players like BP and Shell, who have a hand in places where flaring happens, say they’re trying to cut down on this practice.
On Monday, we let out some secret documents showing how the UAE planned to use the climate summit to make deals in the oil and gas world.
The Experts Speak Up
The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David R. Boyd, didn’t hold back. He called the BBC’s findings “very disturbing,” slamming big oil and the Middle Eastern states for ignoring the human rights of millions of people by not dealing with this air pollution problem from fossil fuels.
Take a Deep Breath
This hidden toxic air pollution from the big oil giants is creeping far and wide, putting the health of millions in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Iran, and Iraq at risk.
BBC has a documentary that dives into this issue, showing how the toxic air from these oil giants is spreading and affecting people’s health. You can catch it on BBC iPlayer (if you’re in the UK) or tune in to BBC World News on Saturday 9 December at 09:30 GMT.
An Avoidable Mess
The thing is, flaring can be stopped. Instead of burning the gas, it can be captured and used to make electricity or heat homes. But despite that, it’s still happening all over the world.
The Nasty Stuff
The pollutants from flaring—stuff like PM2.5, Ozone, NO2, and benzo(a)pyrene (BaP)—are seriously bad news. They’re linked to things like strokes, cancer, asthma, and heart disease if you’re exposed to high levels or for a long time. The experts, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), say so.
Not Just Health
Flaring doesn’t just mess with health; it’s a big deal for the planet too. It pumps out greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane, adding to global warming.
Remember when the UAE’s national oil company said they’d stop routine flaring? Yeah, that’s not happening as promised. Satellite images show it’s still a daily thing at offshore sites. And the UAE supplies a lot of oil to the UK.
The situation’s pretty serious, but there’s hope if action’s taken to tackle this gas flaring mess.