COP28 President Al Jaber denies allegations of using climate summit to strike fossil fuel deals

Claims it as an attempt to undermine the efforts put in by the United Arab Emirates as president of COP28

November 29, 2023 10:17 pm | Updated November 30, 2023 02:02 am IST - EXPO CITY, DUBAI

People walk near the Al Wasl Dome at Expo City ahead of the COP28 U.N. Climate Summit on November 28, 2023 in Dubai.

People walk near the Al Wasl Dome at Expo City ahead of the COP28 U.N. Climate Summit on November 28, 2023 in Dubai. | Photo Credit: AP

COP28 President-designate Sultan Al Jaber on November 29 described as “false” reports earlier this week that alleged the United Arab Emirates, the host of COP28, planned to use climate talks to further oil and gas deals with other countries visiting for climate negotiations.

“These allegations are false, not true, incorrect, and are not accurate. It is an attempt to undermine the work of the COP28 presidency,” said Mr. Al Jaber, who is also the U.A.E.’s Minister of Industries and Advanced Technology.

Also read | COP28: Ten things to watch out for at Dubai summit

The BBC, based on leaked documents, reported this week that Abu Dhabi National Oil Corporation (ADNOC), which Mr. Al Jaber heads, had prepared “talking points” and plans to meet with representatives from at least 27 countries to expand oil and gas exploration projects. Mr. Al Jaber has previously been criticised for his dual roles as COP President — where he is expected to be impartial and neutral while furthering the world’s transition away from fossil fuel — as well as CEO of ADNOC, one of the world’s leading oil and gas companies.

‘Talks revolve only around COP28’

“Let me ask you a question. Do you think the U.A.E., or myself, would need the COP or the COP presidency to establish business deals or commercial relationships? I promise you. Never ever did I see these talking points that they refer to or that I ever even use such talking points in my discussions. Every meeting I have conducted with every government, or any other stakeholder has always been centred around one thing only, and that is my COP28 agenda and how we can collectively, for the first time ever, adopt a mindset that is centred around implementation and action to keep 1.5oC within reach,” he said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

1.5oC refers to a target following from the 2015 Paris Agreement for countries to strive to cut greenhouse gas emissions so that they would keep global temperatures below 1.5oC.

Mr. Al Jaber said that given the position he holds as COP President, he was “told to” engage with governments and oil and gas companies to put pressure (on them to give up fossil fuel), and other times that he ought not to be doing so. “So, we’re damned if we do, we’re damned if we don’t... we have been clear and open and clear and honest and transparent on how we’re going to conduct this COP process,” he asserted.

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