The nomination of an oil executive to oversee the United Nations climate negotiations at COP28 this year was widely criticised by environmental and climate groups around the world in a letter published on Thursday.
The United Arab Emirates is hosting this year’s U.N. climate talks from November 30 through December 12, and they announced earlier this month that Sultan al-Jaber would be presiding over the conference as president. His company, Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., currently produces 4 million barrels of crude oil per day and plans to increase production to 5 million barrels per day by the end of the decade.
The United Arab Emirates is one of the world’s top 10 oil producers, so the money made from selling its oil is essential to its economy. And as the climate crisis worsens, the burning of that oil releases carbon dioxide emissions.
Those involved in activism have voiced concerns that the selection of al-Jaber “threatens the legitimacy and efficacy” of the conference. The letter to U.N. officials argued that it would be dishonourable to appoint a fossil fuel executive who profits immensely from fueling the climate crisis to oversee the global response to climate change.
The nomination of an oil executive to lead the climate talks is cited as further evidence of the power of fossil fuel companies over international climate policy in the letter.
Five of the nine coalitions of non-governmental organisations that represent different sectors of the global population at the climate talks signed the letter, including some of the world’s largest environmental and climate action groups like 350.org, Friends of the Earth International, and Greenpeace.
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The groups have argued that those in charge of the climate talks must be unbiased in their dealings with fossil fuel companies. They also insisted that the conference prioritise the needs of those most impacted by climate change in its negotiations and solution-finding, and that no fossil fuel companies be allowed to participate in the conference’s sponsorships, partnerships, or rule-making processes.
Several other people had previously commented on al-nomination Jaber’s prior to the letter. In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry voiced his support for the nomination. During the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this month, former U.S. vice president and climate leader Al Gore voiced his disapproval of al-appointment. Jaber’s
Students from the climate action group Fridays for Future were also in Davos to express their displeasure with the decision.