Abu Dhabi: United Arab Emirates on Thursday named Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber the chief executive officer of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company to lead COP28 global climate talks later this year.
The announcement prompted fierce criticism from environmental activists. Activists asks he must stand down from his oil business role while president as it is a clear “conflict of interest”.
Senior Advisor with Climate Action Network International (CAN-I) Harjeet Singh said, “Al Jaber’s appointment as COP28 President is outrageously regressive and deeply problematic to say the least!”
“Fossil fuels are the root cause of the his position as CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company raises grave conflict of interest issues” he added.
Teresa Anderson, global lead on climate justice at ActionAid, an NGO, said: “This appointment goes beyond putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.”
And Rachel Kyte, dean of the Fletcher School of international affairs at Tufts University in the US, warned: “The incoming COP president has a dilemma.
“The UAE is competing to be the most efficient and lowest-cost source of fossil fuels as global production must diminish through the energy transition,” she said.
Al-Jaber’s firm pumps some 4 million barrels of crude a day and hopes to expand to 5 million daily, generating more of the heat-trapping carbon dioxide the UN annual climate negotiations aim to limit.
The Emirates’ state-run WAM news agency made the announcement, noting al-Jaber’s years also serving as a climate envoy.
“This will be a critical year in a critical decade for climate action,” WAM quoted al-Jaber as saying. “The UAE is approaching COP28 with a strong sense of responsibility and the highest possible level of ambition.
The UAE, the first country in the region to ratify the Paris Agreement, has committed to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
The COP28 conference will be the first global stocktake since the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015.