The campaign to remove Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber from his role as president-designate of the forthcoming United Nations climate summit escalated after his company announced record profits and plans to expand.
According to Reuters, the net profit for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) in 2022 was $802 million, a 33% increase from $604 million in 2021. Due in large part to its plans to increase extraction, including from so-called “unconventional” wells, the drilling giant led by al-Jaber anticipates another record-breaking year, with a projection of $850 million to $1 billion in net profit in 2023. This is true despite evidence that doing so will help lock in the climate crisis’s worst effects.
According to Marta Schaaf of Amnesty International, “al-Jaber, the chief executive of ADNOC, one of the world’s largest oil and gas producers, plans to increase the group’s production of fossil fuels… is entirely incompatible with his role as president-designate of COP28.” Al-Jaber is the chief executive of ADNOC, one of the world’s biggest producers of oil and gas.
Schaaf, the programme director for Corporate Accountability and Climate, Economic, and Social Justice at Amnesty International, stated that Sultan al-Jaber “cannot be an honest broker for climate talks when the company he leads is planning to cause more climate damage.”
It has been widely criticised that the United Arab Emirates recently chose al-Jaber to lead a crucial round of international climate negotiations. The UAE is hosting the COP28 conference, which will begin in November.
Despite Sultan’s denials, it is clear that his dual role is a glaring conflict of interest and will contribute to the ongoing human rights violations and climate disaster.
No COP presided over by a fossil fuel executive can be considered legitimate, a global network of more than 450 climate justice organisations argued in a letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres on January 26.
A day later, more than two dozen progressive members of Congress urged top US climate diplomat John Kerry to pressure the UAE to name a new COP28 president-designate who doesn’t have ties to the sector most responsible for causing the climate emergency. Kerry has come under fire for celebrating al-Jaber’s appointment.
Amnesty Monday joined the chorus by declaring al-Jaber “unfit” to serve as the head of COP28.
“Despite Sultan al-Jaber’s denials, it is obvious that his dual role is a glaring conflict of interest which will contribute to further climate disaster and unfolding human rights violations,” said Schaaf.
Schaaf continued, “Sultan al-Jaber has said that climate concerns should never compromise economic growth” since he was announced as COP28 president-designate last month. Moreover, he has said that the transition to sustainable energy depends on natural gas, a key element of ADNOC’s expansion plans and whose main component is a greenhouse gas much more potent than carbon dioxide.
Genevieve Guenther, the founder of End Climate Silence and an adjunct professor at The New School, provided additional insight into al-efforts Jaber’s to downplay Big Oil’s responsibility for the climate crisis and willingness to exacerbate it.
Guenther points out that despite environmental justice organisations attempting to change the nature of “the energy industry,” al-Jaber has presented a benign-sounding “energy industry” devoid of references to oil and gas and coal companies as a crucial partner in the decarbonisation process.
Similar to the 26 annual UN climate conferences that came before it, COP27 came to an end in November of last year without any agreement on a quick and fair global phase-out of oil, gas, and coal.
ADNOC and countless other businesses intend to increase planet-warming pollution in the coming years, despite repeated warnings from scientists that doing so will exacerbate the deadly effects of the climate emergency.
Progressive critics have argued that Big Oil’s corrupting influence at UN climate talks is inextricably linked to policymakers’ ongoing refusal to directly confront the fossil fuel industry, whose drive to maximise short-term profits is putting the future of humanity at risk.
The expansion plans, according to Schaaf on Monday, “will heighten concerns that this crucial climate conference is being hijacked by the state oil company and will serve wider fossil fuel interests,” in light of reports that some ADNOC staff members have been seconded to the COP28 organising team.
Amnesty International reiterated its “call for Sultan al-Jaber to resign from the state oil company and for the UAE’s COP28 leadership team to include the phasing out of fossil fuels among its priorities for the conference” in Schaaf’s statement.