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COP28 Chief Under Fire from EU and US Lawmakers Over Oil Ties

More than 130 lawmakers from the European Union and the United States are calling for the removal of oil executive Sultan Al Jaber as president of this year’s COP28 climate talks. 

In a joint letter — addressed to the United Nations, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and U.S. President Joe Biden — the lawmakers warn of fossil fuel companies exerting “undue influence” over the negotiations, which take place in the United Arab Emirates at the end of the year. 

The UAE’s appointment of Al Jaber, who runs the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, sparked controversy from the moment it was announced.  

The lawmakers’ letter adds weight to a growing campaign on both sides of the Atlantic to replace Al Jaber. 

“The decision to name as president of COP28 the chief executive of one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies — a company that has recently announced plans to add 7.6 billion barrels of oil to its production in the coming years, representing the fifth largest increase in the world — risks undermining the negotiations,” they write. 

The talks would be “severely jeopardized by having an oil company executive at the helm,” they add. 

The lawmakers also ask for measures limiting corporate influence on COPs, suggesting first steps toward new rules could be taken at next month’s technical U.N. climate talks in Bonn. 

“It is essential that we … protect climate policy from polluting interference by adopting concrete rules that limit the influence of the fossil fuel industry and its lobbyists in the [U.N.] decision-making process,” the letter states.

Signatories on the U.S. side include two dozen members of Congress as well as Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Sheldon Whitehouse, among others. 

The nearly 100 EU signatories include Greens leaders Terry Reintke and Philippe Lamberts, The Left’s leaders Manon Aubry and Martin Schirdewan and the Socialists & Democrats’ vice chair Mohammed Chahim. 

“Corporate greed and lobbyists’ lies have led us into this climate crisis,” said Aubry. “We must prevent private interests from interfering in politics and regain ownership of our future.”

EU and U.S. leaders have so far defended Al Jaber’s appointment. 

European Green Deal chief Frans Timmermans said he was “extremely well placed to lead us into a successful COP.” U.S. climate envoy John Kerry called Al Jaber a “terrific choice.” 

A COP28 spokesperson also defended Al Jaber, noting his “20-year career in the renewable energy space” and previous involvement in climate talks.

“We believe that [Al Jaber’s] experience as an engineer, working across the energy spectrum, coupled with his experience as a senior global industry leader, are assets that will help drive the UAE’s transformative approach to COP28,” the spokesperson said.

Source : Politico