In a recent development, the European Union is urging the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to step up and contribute financially to a climate change fund ahead of the highly anticipated COP28 conference, scheduled to commence in Dubai on November 30. However, skepticism looms large over the gas-rich Gulf state’s ability to take a leading role in environmental initiatives. Observers question the sincerity of the UAE’s commitment to climate action, especially considering the controversial stance of its Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Sultan Al Jaber.
The EU’s call for financial support aims to establish a fund to aid less affluent nations in coping with the aftermath of extreme weather events. Bloomberg’s report suggests that such a move would set an example for significant carbon emitters like Saudi Arabia and China and also signal collective responsibility in addressing climate-related damages.
Unsurprisingly, the UAE has remained tight-lipped in response to these requests for climate contributions.
A significant portion of the Emirati economy, approximately one-third, heavily relies on oil and gas. Despite the global push for cleaner and sustainable energy sources, the UAE, particularly Abu Dhabi, has encountered varying success in improving its environmental track record. The Climate Action Tracker, headquartered in Germany, has criticized the UAE’s climate change plans as “insufficient,” citing the nation’s intentions to ramp up fossil fuel production and consumption.
One key player in the UAE’s oil and gas sector is the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), of which Sultan Al Jaber serves as both the CEO and the UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology. The ADNOC’s gas unit recently made headlines in August with a $3.6 billion expansion of its domestic infrastructure, underscoring the country’s ongoing commitment to fossil fuels.
However, critics argue that Al Jaber’s dual role as a government minister and a leading figure in the oil industry raises concerns about potential conflicts of interest. His emphasis on cooperation between energy firms and climate change advocates has drawn particular scrutiny, with skeptics highlighting the perceived lobbying efforts to protect the interests of the oil and gas sector.
As the president of the upcoming COP28 talks, Al Jaber’s controversial approach continues to attract attention. Critics argue that his push to involve energy companies in climate discussions, rather than prioritizing a shift away from fossil fuels, undermines the urgency of addressing climate change. A September report from Chatham House criticized Al Jaber for his emphasis on carbon capture technology as opposed to advocating for a comprehensive replacement of fossil fuels.
The spotlight on Sultan Al Jaber raises questions about the UAE’s commitment to genuine climate action. Observers argue that the country’s heavy reliance on oil and gas, coupled with Al Jaber’s role in promoting the fossil fuel industry’s interests, signals a lack of serious intent to transition towards cleaner energy sources.
Amidst preparations for COP28, doubts persist regarding the UAE’s dedication to environmental sustainability. Critics contend that Sultan Al Jaber and the UAE government are engaging in strategic lobbying efforts, casting a shadow over the global community’s expectations for meaningful climate contributions at the upcoming crucial conference. As the world looks to Dubai for leadership on climate action, the UAE’s response to these mounting concerns will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping the narrative of COP28.