Lawmakers urge removal of oil chief from UN climate summit

Sultan Al Jaber, the head of the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), is facing growing pressure to step down as the president of the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in November 2023

(Green matters)

More than 100 lawmakers from the US and the EU have sent a letter to their leaders and the UN officials, asking them to replace Al Jaber with someone who is not involved in the fossil-fuel industry. They claimed that Al Jaber’s position as an oil producer is in conflict with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2050.

The letter also called for more measures to curb the influence of fossil-fuel companies at the talks, which will take place in a context of a global energy crisis caused by the Russia-Ukraine dispute and the revival of coal plants and new oil and gas projects in some countries. Al Jaber’s appointment has been met with opposition and criticism from lawmakers and activists since it was announced. In January, more than two dozen US lawmakers urged their climate envoy John Kerry to put diplomatic pressure on the UAE to change its COP28 leader. In February, green EU lawmakers made a similar appeal in a letter to UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell. African climate activists also likened Al Jaber’s role to putting a fox in charge of a henhouse3.

According to a report by The Guardian, ADNOC plans to produce oil and gas equivalent to 7.5 billion barrels of oil, 90% of which would have to stay in the ground to meet the Net Zero scenario set out by the International Energy Agency. The UAE also has the third biggest net zero-busting plans for oil and gas expansion in the world, after Saudi Arabia and Qatar. COP28 will be a critical moment for evaluating the progress on the Paris Agreement, as it will conduct the first Global Stocktake (GST), a comprehensive review of collective action since 2015. The COP28 UAE Presidency has stated that it will work to ensure that the world responds to the GST with a clear plan of action.