Emirates: COP28 will be chaired by CEO of state-owned oil giant ADNOC

The CEO of the United Arab Emirates’ national oil company was named chairman of the UN climate conference slated for this year in the wealthy Gulf country on Thursday, sparking heavy criticism among environmental activists.

The Emirati Minister of Industry, head of oil giant ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) and special envoy for climate change, Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, will be the first CEO to chair a COP, according to a press release published on Thursday by the official WAM news agency.

“We will bring a pragmatic, realistic and solution-oriented approach,” Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber said in the statement.

“Climate action is a huge economic opportunity for investing in sustainable growth. Financing is key,” he added.

The Emirati minister has been leading the national oil company since 2016 but also Masdar, the Emirati renewable energy company.

His double hat, however, earned him criticism from environmental activists.

“The appointment of Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber as President of COP28, while he holds the position of CEO of the national oil company of Abu Dhabi constitutes an outrageous conflict of interest”, reacted Harjeet Singh, of the organization Climate Action Network International.

“The constant threat of fossil fuel lobbyists at the UN climate negotiations has always weakened the results of the climate conference, but this situation is reaching another dangerous and unprecedented level.”

– Global warming –

Lobbyists from the oil and gas sector came in force to the COP27 organized in November in Egypt, with a number up more than 25% compared to the previous COP in Glasgow, according to the associations.

The largest contingent came from the United Arab Emirates, followed by Russia.

This edition allowed the adoption of a resolution on the compensation of the poorest countries for the damage caused by climate change.

But it failed to advance the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, to maintain the objective of limiting global warming.

And the issue of less use of fossil fuels was barely mentioned in the texts.

The United Arab Emirates, which is one of the world’s leading oil exporters, is advocating for a gradual exit from hydrocarbons, and has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

The desert country of 10 million inhabitants, 90% of whom are expatriates, has known, thanks to oil, dazzling growth since the 1970s, but its economy has gradually diversified.

“Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will require significant emissions reductions, a pragmatic, practical and realistic approach to energy transition and increased support for emerging economies,” the statement released on Thursday said, referring to the objective. set at previous COP summits.

Global warming is a particularly important subject for the Gulf countries where temperatures sometimes approach 50 degrees in summer.

According to a study published in 2021, some regions could become unlivable by the end of the century.

COP28 will be held in Dubai in November and December.

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