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Reactions continue to trail appointment of oil magnate as COP28 president

Reactions have continued to trail the appointment of an oil magnate to lead this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28). The hosts of COP28, United Arab Emirates, have appointed Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, who is the head of one of the world’s biggest oil companies, as COP president.

Jaber is currently the chief executive officer of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

With the announcement of the oil chief as the COP president, it clearly shows that COP28 is highly compromised, civil society group, Oilwatch said in a statement sent to Nigerian Tribune.

Nnimmo Bassey, member Oilwatch international steering committee stated that: “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. Their heavy presence has led to the COP being unable to call for a fossil fuels phase out — 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.”

The coordinator of Oilwatch Africa, Salome Nduta stated that, “The appointment of Abu Dhabi chief or that of anybody who has interest in oil will definitely 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 violate rights should not be made to be the judge in a matter against it. Entrusting one of their own is a blatant violation of rights and conflict of interest.”

Also reacting, Philip Jakpor, Director of Programmes, at Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), stated that, “The announcement reinforces the long standing conviction of the global climate justice community that the climate talks have been hijacked by the same fossil fuels industry that is responsible for the climate crisis and the suffering of frontline communities.

“The credibility of the UNFCCC processes to deliver on climate ambitions is now further eroded. The negotiations in UAE may be between the fossil fuel industry and the fossil fuel industry. Frontline communities and other critical voices will be shut out.”

Zeina Khalil Hajj, Head of Global Campaigning & Organising at, said, “The climate crisis demands urgent and real action, the appointment of Sultan al-Jaber,  head of state oil giant  Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) as President of UNFCCC COP28 is the equivalent of appointing the CEO of a cigarette company to oversee a conference on cancer cures. It risks jeopardising the entire UN climate progress.

“We are extremely concerned that it will open the floodgates for greenwashing and oil and gas deals to keep exploiting fossil fuels. COP 28 cannot turn into an expo for the fossil fuel industry, this flies in the face of all the robust scientific evidence and data given by industry players like the International Energy Agency that we must phase out fossil fuels for the chance of a liveable future.”


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