The head of the United Arab Emirates' national oil company was named Thursday as president of this year's COP28 climate talks, prompting fierce criticism from environmental activists.
Sultan al-Jaber, chief executive of the UAE's Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), will be the first CEO to take the role at the UN summit, said a statement carried by the official WAM news agency.
"I sincerely believe that climate action today is an immense economic opportunity for investment in sustainable growth," he was quoted as saying, promising a "pragmatic" approach.
Jaber, the UAE's minister of industry, is also the Gulf state's special envoy for climate change and has taken part in more than 10 COP meetings.
He is CEO of Masdar, the UAE's renewable energy company, and has "played a key role in shaping the country's clean energy path", the statement said.
But climate activists were quick to criticise his appointment. Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International, said it "poses an outrageous conflict of interest".
Teresa Anderson, global lead on climate justice at ActionAid, an NGO, said: "This appointment goes beyond putting the fox in charge of the henhouse."
And Rachel Kyte, dean of the Fletcher School of international affairs at Tufts University in the US, warned: "The incoming COP president has a dilemma.
"The UAE is competing to be the most efficient and lowest-cost source of fossil fuels as global production must diminish through the energy transition," she said.
"It will be challenging as COP president to unite countries around more aggressive action while at the same time suggesting that other producers stop producing because UAE has you covered.
"We don't have the planetary space for mixed messages," she added.