Battle Lines Harden Over Big Oil’s Role at Climate Talks in Dubai. Sultan al-Jaber leads the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company as well as the COP28 climate talks coming this November.
An unavoidable tension surrounds this year’s United Nations-sponsored climate talks in November: They will take place in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, and the most important role at the talks is held by the man who heads the national oil company.
The executive, Sultan al-Jaber, and other representatives of the Emirates have argued that they have a “game changing” plan to fight climate change by welcoming oil and gas companies from around the world to participate more fully in the talks. In other words, invite the producers of the fuels that cause the majority of global warming as key players in developing a plan to slow the warming.
In an interview, Majid al-Suwaidi, an Emirati diplomat who will also play a major role at the climate talks, known by the acronym COP28, said, “We need to engage the people who have the technical know-how, the skills, the technology — and, by the way, the people who provide jobs — in a conversation about how they transform.”
To activists who have attended these conferences for years, that notion sounds far-fetched. “It’s just like how tobacco lobbyists need to be kept out of conversations about cancer prevention,” said Catherine Abreu, who heads Destination Zero, a network of nonprofits working on climate issues.
The conference will take place amid a backdrop of resurgent fossil fuel investment after a brief, pandemic-era dip. Energy use derived from fossil fuels accounts for more than two-thirds of global emissions.
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