Appointing the head of one of the United Arab Emirates’ state-owned oil companies as the head of this year’s UN climate conference “goes beyond putting the fox in charge of the hen house”, according to a global charity.
The UAE said on Thursday that COP28, which is being held in Dubai in December, will be chaired by Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc)
While also leading the firm, which produces four million barrels of oil a day and is aiming to increase production, Mr Al Jaber is also linked with companies that promote and produce clean, renewable energy.
Responding to the move, Teresa Anderson, global lead on climate justice at the ActionAid charity, said: “This appointment goes beyond putting the fox in charge of the hen house.
“The UN Climate Summit is supposed to be a space where the world holds polluters to account, but increasingly it’s being hijacked by those with opposing interests.
“Like last year’s summit, we’re increasingly seeing fossil fuel interests taking control of the process and shaping it to meet their own needs.
“For the summit hosts to be taken seriously as honest brokers for change, they need to go above and beyond to avoid a conflict of interest. This is vital for the safety and protection of our planet.
“Unfortunately, COP28 looks like it is off to a bad start in that regard.”
Tasneem Essop, the executive director of Climate Action Network International, told The Guardian it is “imperative for the world to be reassured that he will step down from his role as the CEO of Adnoc”.
She added: “He cannot preside over a process that is tasked to address the climate crisis with such a conflict of interest, heading an industry that is responsible for the crisis itself.
“If he does not step down as CEO, it will be tantamount to a full-scale capture of the UN climate talks by a petro-state national oil company and its associated fossil fuel lobbyists.
“COP26 in Glasgow had 500 fossil fuel lobbyists in attendance, the COP in Egypt saw a 25% increase in their presence, COP28 now seems to be open season for vested interests who will no doubt use the climate talks to continue to undermine any progress on climate action.”
Indian climate activist Hajeep Singh wrote on Twitter: “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 #ClimateCrisis. His position as CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company raises grave conflict of interest issues.”
It comes after some activists criticised COP27 in Egypt for compromising on its ambitions to mitigate emissions in order to get agreement on loss and damage in some developing nations.
Asked for a response to the criticism of Mr Al Jaber’s appointed by NBC News, a spokesperson to the UAE Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change said his experience “uniquely positions him to be able to convene both the public and private sector to bring about pragmatic solutions to achieve the goals and aspirations of the Paris Climate Agreement.”
The spokesperson added: “The UAE is committed to an inclusive COP process, with the COP president acting as a global convenor. The UAE’s COP Presidency works with all parties and is committed to being open, transparent and accountable.”
Mr Al Jaber had earlier been quoted by UAE official news agency WAM as saying it “will be a critical year in a critical decade for climate action,” and calling for “a pragmatic, realistic and solutions-oriented approach” to limit global warming to 1.5C (2.7F) by 2050.
This story originally Appeared on skynews