Sultan Al-Jaber, the CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., has been chosen to lead the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP28, in Dubai. Activists have criticized Al-Jaber's selection due to his connection with the oil industry. However, in his speech at the World Government Summit in Dubai, Al-Jaber called for a course correction in the fight against climate change and described COP28 as an opportunity to engage the energy industry in a technological revolution. He also stated that the strategies and policies adopted should be pro-growth and pro-climate, leaving no one behind.
Al-Jaber's speech acknowledged that capital is critical to make the loss-and-damage fund agreed to at the COP27 talks in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, real and operational. However, he did not offer a suggestion on how to raise the money. Al-Jaber called on the world to triple its renewable energy capacity, expand nuclear power, improve battery storage, and provide carbon-capture technology. He also defended the UAE as the host of the conference, stating that the nation is not shying away from the energy transition but rather running towards it.
Al-Jaber's selection as COP president was backed by the US climate envoy, John Kerry, and France's finance minister, among others. While activists have criticized the choice, the nominee's position as COP president is typically confirmed by delegates at the start of the talks. COP28 is set to take place in Dubai's Expo City from November 30 to December 12.
Al-Jaber called for global unity in the fight against climate change, urging the world to "fight climate change, not each other." His speech sought to bridge the gap between oil companies and climate activists, who have long been suspicious of the industry's influence on efforts to limit carbon emissions. It remains to be seen whether Al-Jaber's presidency will successfully unite these two groups, but his call for a course correction and pro-growth, pro-climate policies could signal a new direction in the fight against climate change.