The UAE government has faced criticism for appointing a fossil fuel executive as the head of Cop28, which is slated to take place in Dubai in November. Given the government’s control over approximately 6% of the world’s oil reserves, this decision has received backlash. Notably, 130 lawmakers from the US and EU have united in demanding the removal of Al Jaber from his position as the summit’s president.
The appointment of a leader from a national oil company as the head of COP28 raises concerns about the potential exploitation of the presidency to advance fossil fuel interests. Amnesty International’s Climate Advisor, Chiara Liguori, has expressed apprehension regarding this issue.
In the meantime, Al Jaber has been collaborating with prominent consulting firms and PR agencies to highlight his efforts as an advocate for Emirati investment in green energy.
The controversy centers around Al Jaber’s dual role as the CEO of ADNOC and the president of COP28. Despite the International Energy Agency’s call for no new oil and gas projects to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, ADNOC is actively expanding the UAE’s fossil fuel production. Analysis of edits made to Al Jaber’s Wikipedia page since March of the previous year reveals a deliberate attempt by his team to shape public perception regarding his track record in the fossil fuel industry.
Allegations have emerged against Sultan Al Jaber, the president of Cop28, suggesting that he is involved in activities aimed at enhancing his public image through “greenwashing.” These accusations stem from revelations that individuals within his team have made edits to Wikipedia pages that downplay or remove references to his role as CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC).
The edits made by Al Jaber’s team extend to both his personal Wikipedia entry and the entry for the climate summit. Among their modifications, they included the addition of a quote from an editorial that portrays Al Jaber, who also serves as the United Arab Emirates minister for industry and advanced technology, as a valuable ally of the climate movement. Furthermore, they proposed the removal of any mention of a significant oil pipeline deal he signed in 2019. These details were brought to light by the Centre for Climate Reporting and The Guardian.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has expressed concern over the actions of oil companies and their CEOs, accusing them of engaging in an elevated form of greenwashing. Lucas asserts that these companies are exerting control over global climate conferences and using their employees to remove critical information that exposes their blatant hypocrisy, as seen on Wikipedia.
An unidentified Wikipedia user, claiming to receive payment from Adnoc, recommended the elimination of a mention of a $4 billion agreement signed by Al Jaber in 2019 with investment firms BlackRock and KKR for oil pipeline infrastructure development. The user argued that the details were excessive and proposed that the page state Al Jaber merely attracted “international investment” to Adnoc.
US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who led the call for Al Jaber’s replacement as the summit’s president, acknowledged Cop28’s attempt to enhance Al Jaber’s environmental image. However, he emphasized that as an oil executive, Al Jaber is responsible for significant harm to the planet. Whitehouse urged the United Nations, which oversees the Cop process, to reassess the conduct of these critical forums to prevent undue influence from the fossil fuel industry.