DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The oil company executive who assumed responsibility for delicate international climate negotiations in Dubai faced increasing pressure to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Concerns have been raised regarding the perceived conflicting dual roles of the executive

Oil Executive Pressure builds

The COP28 climate talks commenced with the newly appointed boss facing intense scrutiny, not only due to the continuously breaking heat records this year.

Before the United Nations Conference of Parties, reports surfaced regarding meeting preparation notes that connected the United Arab Emirates national oil company ADNOC, attempting to promote fossil fuel sales while its CEO and new COP president, Sultan al-Jaber, was engaging in climate change mitigation efforts.

It is important to note that burning coal, oil, and gas are primary contributors to global warming.

Al-Jaber strongly refuted the BBC’s findings on Wednesday. However, according to climate negotiation experts, these revelations are expected to impact the tone significantly and potentially even the outcome of the intensive two-week negotiations, being held approximately 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the location of five offshore oil fields.

Jennifer Morgan

The pressure on the COP president to deliver is evident and has been so for several months, as stated by Jennifer Morgan, the German climate envoy. The main objective is to ensure a course correction and deliver substantial results.

Climate negotiations historian Joanna Depledge has suggested that the recent revelations, while potentially embarrassing, will unlikely jeopardize the COP. This is likely to increase the pressure on the UAE.

United Arab Emirates

During the initial session, negotiators took a decisive step by discussing an important issue: providing financial assistance to impoverished nations affected by floods, storms, and droughts.

To kickstart this initiative, al-Jaber and the United Nations, along with the United Arab Emirates and Germany, agreed to allocate $100 million each to establish a compensation fund for countries impacted by climate change.

Mohamed Adow from Power Shift Africa emphasized that it is only natural for the COP hosts and other fossil fuel nations to feel the pressure on this matter. It is undeniable that fossil fuels are a significant concern, and these countries cannot continue to ignore this fact. As a result, the heightened scrutiny is undoubtedly appreciated.

World Resources

The World Resources Institute president, Ani Dasgupta, stated that Al-Jaber’s dual positions have led to a lack of trust. The media coverage further emphasizes the impact of coal, oil, and gas on climate change during climate talks and highlights the efforts to phase out the use of fossil fuels.

“The disclosures can undermine trust in the COP president, making it more challenging to reach a deal,” explained Nigel Purvis, CEO of Climate Advisers and former U.S. State Department climate lawyer. “However, this situation also motivates the UAE to advocate for a fossil fuel phase-down agreement, demonstrating its commitment to being the first post-petroleum OPEC country.”

U.S. State Department

Morgan affirmed that Germany and Europe are committed to supporting the gradual elimination of fossil fuels. Additionally, on Wednesday, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry reiterated the United States’ ongoing preference for a phased-out approach.

According to a representative from the COP Presidency office, the pressure felt by the COP Presidency arises from the urgent need to deliver ambitious action to steer towards the goal of keeping the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as set in the 2015 international climate threshold.


According to Bill Hare, the CEO of Climate Analytics, the UAE has advocated for a less strict “phase down” approach rather than a more stringent “phase out” for fossil fuels. Hare referred to the phase-down as mere “window dressing” to promote further oil and gas drilling.

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The recent report strongly supports the concerns regarding greenwashing,” Hare stated on Thursday. “Therefore, it is crucial for the COP president to set aside his oil interests and prioritize the planet’s well-being.”

According to Hare, Dasgupta, Purvis, Depledge, and other experts, the outcome of the reporting process will require al-Jaber, along with oil interests, to facilitate a more robust agreement to eliminate the use of fossil fuels.

United Nations Climate

Simon Stiell, the United Nations climate chief, expressed his frustration with the slow progress in the fight against climate change and called for more urgent and ambitious actions. He emphasizes that failing to acknowledge the decline of the fossil fuel era will have severe consequences, endangering lives.

Shortly after assuming control on the initial day of climate negotiations, al-Jaber emphasized the necessity of altering the global energy acquisition approach.

Al-Jaber acknowledged the existence of differing viewpoints on the inclusion of fossil fuel-related content. He urges collaboration, adaptation, mutual agreement seeking, proposal of resolutions, and reaching a consensus.

He also discussed the “bold decision” to involve oil companies more in climate discussions and the goal of achieving net zero industry emissions by 2050.


According to WRI’s Dasgupta, there is added urgency due to the global challenges to multilateralism, as seen in recent conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza and the handling of COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Additionally, the unprecedented heat experienced this year exacerbates the situation.

Climate Analytics Hare explains the dire consequences of global warming, citing recent heatwaves, floods, and other catastrophic events occurring worldwide. The urgency to address this issue is evident as we face potentially devastating consequences.

Al-Jaber hoped that negotiators could enact changes in the following two weeks.

He emphasized the importance of restoring faith in multilateralism and delivering positive news to a world in dire need.

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