More than 450 environmental groups reject the fact that the director of an oil company presides over the next climate summit |  Climate and Environment

More than 450 environmental groups reject the fact that the director of an oil company presides over the next climate summit | Climate and Environment

Every year for almost three decades, a country has hosted the UN climate summit, where they try to advance international policies to face the crisis generated by global warming. The almost 200 nations present in these negotiations agreed a couple of years ago that the 2023 COP28 would be held in the United Arab Emirates. And the host country is in charge of directing the negotiations and proposing a president of the COP. The one designated for that position is Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the Minister of Industry of the Arab country who has been participating in these UN summits for years. The problem is that, at the same time, Al Jaber is the CEO of the public fossil fuel company ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company).

The proposal has generated enormous controversy, although there are still 10 months to go before COP28 starts, an appointment in which the first official balance of the progress of the Paris Agreement will be made, signed in 2015 at the summit held in the French capital. . His appointment will be made official at the beginning of the meeting, when the negotiators of all the countries ratify that proposal. But around 450 international environmental associations have asked this Wednesday that this appointment be stopped. “No COP overseen by a fossil fuel company executive can be considered legitimate. The COP presidencies must be free of all influence from fossil fuel companies”, these organizations point out in a letter they have sent to António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations. “No one should applaud this appointment. It represents a threat to the legitimacy and effectiveness of COP28. If we have any hope of tackling the climate crisis, the COPs must not have any influence from the fossil fuel industry [petróleo, gas y carbón]”, adds this letter.

But there have been some international actors and politicians who have applauded the appointment. Like John Kerry, the representative of the Joe Biden Administration on climate change, who publicly congratulated the sultan a few days ago. The US Democrat recalled that Al Jaber is “an experienced diplomat and businessman.” He also stressed that, in addition to being the head of the Emirates public oil company, he is the president of Masdar, a state-owned company dedicated only to renewable energy. Simon Stiell, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also congratulated the sultan on his appointment on Twitter.

The great lie

The announcement has coincided in time with the hardening of António Guterres’ speech against fossil fuel companies. Some of them were accused last week by the head of the UN of having sold a “big lie” and of having hidden that his business was responsible for global warming. Behind climate change are the greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity and which come mainly from the burning of oil, gas and coal to produce energy. “Like the tobacco industry, those responsible must be held accountable,” Guterres said at the Davos summit.

However, the Secretary General has so far not wanted to take a position on the controversial appointment of Al Jaber. In his communication office, they refer to the words that Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretariat, pronounced a few weeks ago when he was asked about this matter at a press conference. Dujarric recalled that the proposal to chair the summit corresponds to the host country, and that the UN in general and the climate change department in particular “have absolutely no participation” in that process. This spokesperson then recalled that Guterres’s position is clear: “There is no way to avoid such a climate catastrophe without ending our addiction to fossil fuels.”

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In their letter, the signatory organizations – including Greenpeace, Ecologistas en Acción, Amigos de la Tierra and – recall that ADNOC is the “twelfth largest oil producer in the world”. And his plans are to continue increasing oil and gas extraction in the coming years. They warn that it is “one of the fastest growing fossil fuel companies due to the start of new projects and the start-up of new deposits and wells”. “His plans are incompatible with the statements of the International Energy Agency, which makes it clear that there can be no new oil and gas exploitation if you really want to limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” they highlight.

The NGOs also recall that at the last summit, held at the end of 2022 in the Egyptian city of Sharm el Sheikh, at least 636 representatives of fossil fuel companies or pressure groups participated. Fears are that the pressures from this sector will be much greater at COP28. “That this appointment can be seen as beneficial to the COP, in the midst of an increasingly serious climate crisis, in which millions of lives and ecosystems are in danger, is an example of how much influence the big polluters continue to have on climate policy” , maintain these organizations. They denounce that “fossil fuel interests have invaded” the UN framework convention. “The harsh reality is that this appointment represents a turning point and accelerates the loss of credibility” of the convention, lametan.

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