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‘Spit on climate-impacted nations’ — CSOs reject Al Jaber, oil chief, as COP28 president

‘Spit on climate-impacted nations’ — CSOs reject Al Jaber, oil chief, as COP28 president
January 13
19:54 2023

Civil society organisations (CSOs) have kicked against the choice of Sultan Al Jaber, head of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, as the COP28 president. 

On January 12, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced Al Jaber, an oil chief and the minister of industry and technology, as the president of COP28 climate conference.

The announcement has, however, been followed by mixed reactions — including criticism, with activists insisting that he must stand down from his oil chief role.

In a statement on Friday, Oilwatch, a fossil fuel resistance network, said with the announcement of Al Jaber as president, COP28 has become “highly compromised”.


“The past COPs have had an overbearing presence of delegates from the fossil fuels sector,” the statement reads.

“Indeed, at COP27 held in El Sharm Sheikh, Egypt, the sector had more delegates than any single country. Having the head of an oil company as the president of any COP is a form of climate denial.

“At a time when the world should make every effort to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, this appointment is a clear indication of climate change denial.


“With the announcement of the oil chief as the COP president, it clearly shows that COP28 is highly compromised. The appointment is certain to lock in false and risky solutions in the UNFCCC process. The COP is meant to tackle global warming, not compound it.”

Nnimmo Bassey, member of the Oilwatch international steering committee, said the UAE has spat in the face of climate-impacted nations.

“The last two COPs crawled with delegates from the fossil fuels sector and they have been responsible for blocking real climate action or derailing negotiations,” Bassey said.

“Their heavy presence has led to the COP being unable to call for a fossil fuel phase out — even though it is the sensible thing to do. Now UAE spits in the face of flooded, drowning and other climate impacted nations by appointing the chief among polluters to preside over COP28. We call on the UAE to rescind this appointment.


“It is the time to kick polluters out of the COP, not a time to make them the chief directors of proceedings. If they maintain this appointment, the COP would have earned its title as a Conference of Polluters”.

Salome Nduta, coordinator of Oilwatch Africa, said Al Jaber’s appointment will gag genuine discussions on the protection of the environment.

“It is a deliberate attempt to reverse minimal gains made so far. Oil companies who are the main polluters and violators of rights should not be made the judge in a matter against it. Entrusting one of their own is a blatant violation of rights and conflict of interest,” he said.

Also, Kentebe Ebiraidor, coordinator of Oilwatch International, said: “it is amusing to have the chair of a multinational company play host for COP28. This has shown that the discussions would be centred on profit over people, and it is a clear indication that COP28 has been billed to fail before it begins.


“This is also a clear indication that the communities and the environment will suffer because the decisions that would come out its discussion which will in no way be meaningful nor in favour of the people.

“Oilwatch International asks thatUAE retrace its decision by changing the president of the COP.”


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