More than 100 US and EU lawmakers appealed to the leaders of their countries and the United Nations to oust oil executive Sultan Al Jaber as head of this year’s COP28 climate summit.
The politicians also asked that further steps be taken to limit the influence of fossil-fuel companies at the talks to be hosted by the United Arab Emirates at the end of the year. The appointment of Al Jaber, who runs state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., to lead a conference whose goal is to increase global action to cut carbon emissions, has been controversial from the start.
The letter was addressed to US President Joe Biden, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and UN’s climate chief Simon Stiell. It was signed by 99 EU and 34 US lawmakers.
“For billions of people, the outcome of COP28 and following international climate negotiations will make the difference between life and death, chaos and solidarity,” said Manon Aubry, a member of the European Parliament and one of the signatories. “Corporate greed and lobbyists’ lies have led us into this climate crisis. We must prevent private interests from interfering in politics and regain ownership of our future.”
This isn’t the first concerted effort to remove Al Jaber. In January, more than two dozen US lawmakers called on the country’s climate envoy John Kerry to apply diplomatic pressure on the UAE to replace him as COP28 chief. In February, green EU lawmakers also made the same case in a letter addressed to UN’s Stiell.
Under Al Jaber, Adnoc is set to boost oil and gas production, which is something the International Energy Agency and climate scientists agree could cause the world to blow past limits for global warming set through the COP process. Al Jaber is also chairman of state-owned renewable energy company Masdar.
In response to the letter, the organizers of COP28 have given support to Al Jaber. “We believe that Dr. Sultan’s experience as an engineer, working across the energy spectrum, coupled with his experience as a senior global industry leader, are assets that will help drive the UAE’s transformative approach to COP28,” a spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement.