Head of the UN’s COP28 climate conference claims fossil fuels still have a role to play

Sultan Al Jaber, oil exec that will head up UN's COP28 climate conference
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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will host the UN‘s COP28 climate conference in November 2023. One of its senior politicians, sultan Al Jaber, is set to head up the event. However, he said on 3 May that fossil fuels would continue to answer the demand for energy for the “foreseeable future”.

COP28 headed up by oil exec

At the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, a meeting of climate diplomats in Berlin, Al Jaber said:

We know that fossil fuels will continue to play a role in the foreseeable future in helping meet global energy requirements

Our aim should be focused on ensuring that we phase out emissions from all sectors whether it’s oil and gas or high-emitting industries.

As well as heading COP28, Al Jaber is head of the UAE’s national oil company Adnoc.

He said the world could achieve such a target by:

building on and capitalising on existing and new and emerging technologies.

Read on...

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This was an allusion to costly and only recently emerging carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.

The UAE is one of the world’s biggest oil producers. It argues that crude remains indispensable to the global economy, and is needed to finance the energy transition. As a result, it is pushing the merits of CCS, which is intended to remove carbon dioxide from the air or as fuel is burned.

Holding back progress

The choice of Al Jaber, an oil company executive, to head the climate conference in Dubai has angered activists. They fear it will hold back progress on reducing emissions.

As Climate Change News reported:

A broad coalition of nations have been pushing for an agreement to “phase out fossil fuels” at Cop28, so the addition of the word “emissions” is likely to be seen as a loophole for continuing to use such fuels if their emissions are kept out of the atmosphere with CCS.

It also pointed out that Al Jaber had previously called for increased investment in oil and gas.

The Canary has also previously covered the conflicts of interest embedded in COP events. In 2026, Tracy Keeling wrote that COP26 had “opened its doors to at least 503” fossil fuel lobbyists. Then, in November 2022, Keeling wrote of COP27 that:

industries that profit from weaker climate action were out in force at the conference. As Truthout  reported, fossil fuel companies were even invited to take part in the official event program.

So, as with previous climate COPs, one giant misstep at COP27 is obvious to all, seemingly apart from government officials: vested interests were allowed too much influence at the event.

No wonder it’s done little to get our planet out of the emergency room.

Featured image via Arctic Circle/Wikimedia Commons

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

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