Nicole Rodel, Oil Change International, nicole [at] 


UAE announces head of national oil company to lead COP28 climate talks, endangering climate goals civil society warns

12 January 2023 – Today, the United Arab Emirates launched its COP28 presidency and placed the chief of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) at the head of this year’s climate talks, amid deep civil society apprehension of this major conflict of interest.

Sultan Al Jaber, head of the world’s twelfth-largest oil company by production, will be responsible as the COP28 President for holding governments and the fossil fuel industry accountable to global climate goals to limit warming to 1.5°C, which entails, according to the International Energy Agency, an immediate end to all new oil and gas extraction projects.

Recent OCI research has shown that the UAE is poised to become the third largest expander of oil and gas production between 2023 and 2025 and ADNOC the second largest expander company. ADNOC’s new oil and gas production over the next 3 years would lock in over 2.7 Gt of CO2 emissions, which is equivalent to one year of the European Union’s CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. 

COP27 in Egypt in November 2022 saw more than a 25% spike in fossil fuel lobbyists’ presence, ultimately blocking stronger language on phasing out all fossil fuels; and similar could be expected at COP28.

Romain Ioualalen, Global Policy manager at Oil Change International, said:  

“This is a truly breathtaking conflict of interest and is tantamount to putting the head of a tobacco company in charge of negotiating an anti-smoking treaty. This appointment risks further undermining the credibility of global climate talks and threatens the action and leadership needed for a rapid and equitable phase out of all fossil fuels, which over 80 countries called for during last year’s COP. While countries should be focusing on how to rapidly decarbonize the global economy, the COP risks becoming a festival of greenwashing, false solutions and shady fossil fuel deals, a trend that was started by the Egyptian Presidency in 2022.

The new COP28 President is not the CEO of any oil and gas company: ADNOC’s investment decisions in the next few years will make it the second largest expander of oil and gas production globally, despite clear warnings from the International Energy Agency and the UN that any new oil and gas production is incompatible with limiting warming to 1.5°C. ADNOC will surely tout its investments in renewable energy but the reality is that the climate talks will be run by the CEO of a company betting on climate failure. These are the worst possible credentials for an upcoming COP President.”

One Comment

  • The appointment of a fossil fuel executive to preside over these talks is wholly incompatible with the goals of the meeting, to find climate solutions to the crisis caused by fossil fuels!

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