The recent appointment of Sultan al-Jaber, an oil executive, as the president of the COP28 summit has sparked discontent among climate campaigners and various groups. This summit plays a crucial role in facilitating global negotiations to combat climate change and establish a framework for meeting the commitments made by countries during the 2015 Paris Summit.
These objectives seek to restrict the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius beyond pre-industrial levels. To accomplish this, it is necessary to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and attain net-zero emissions by the mid-century. The scientific consensus emphasizes the critical role of diminishing the extraction and utilization of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas in order to uphold the commitments outlined in the Paris Agreement.
However, critics argue that appointing Mr. al-Jaber, the CEO of the state oil firm ADNOC, raises concerns due to his firm’s strategic plans. ADNOC’s 2030 strategy focuses on building a more profitable upstream sector, enhancing the value of downstream operations, and ensuring a sustainable and economically viable gas supply. Essentially, this means a continued reliance on fossil fuels.
One of the 133 lawmakers who signed an open letter expressing discontent with the appointment, Michael Bloss, a member of the German Green Party, described it as a “scandal” and a “perfect example of a conflict of interest.” He likened the decision to placing the tobacco industry in charge of ending smoking. The letter, addressed to President Biden and President Von der Leyen, warns that naming the CEO of one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies as the president of COP28 jeopardizes the effectiveness of the negotiations. ADNOC recently announced plans to increase its oil production by 7.6 billion barrels in the coming years, making it the world’s fifth-largest increment in production.
The letter also highlights the presence of 636 lobbyists from the different industries of oil and gas at the previous year’s COP, a 25% increase from the previous year. Given the new leadership, concerns are now raised about the potential for increased influence by fossil fuel interests in the upcoming summit.
Future Plans of ADNOC
According to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), ADNOC produced 2.7 million barrels of oil per day in 2021 and has ambitious plans for the future. The company aims to nearly double its daily output to five million barrels by 2027, a deadline that has been moved forward from 2030 under Mr. al-Jaber’s leadership.
According to the official website of ADNOC, the company is described as a rising upstream enterprise dedicated to the exploration of the untapped oil and gas reservoirs within the UAE. Experts also point out that continuing fossil fuel production aligns with the UAE’s national interest, as the country is the 10th largest oil producer globally and a longstanding member of the influential OPEC oil cartel.
The appointment of Sultan al-Jaber has raised concerns about the potential conflict of interest and the prioritization of fossil fuel interests at the COP28 summit. Critics argue that such a decision undermines the urgent requirement to transition away from fossil fuels and poses a risk to the effectiveness of global climate negotiations. As the summit approaches, the attention turns to how this controversy will shape the discussions and actions taken to address the pressing issue of climate change.