An inquiry to ascertain if the presidency of the COP28 climate conference is independent of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company has been launched by the UN.
This is coming as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently appointed ADNOC’s Chief Executive Officer and Industry Minister Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber to lead global climate talks that will be held in Dubai in December.
Currently, the main COP28 team is using the same building that houses offices of the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology and is located next to ADNOC’s headquarters.
This development has prompted the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to send a series of questions to the presidency of the climate talks enquiring about whether the president will be independent of the oil company, a source close to the COP28 has said.
The questions include whether there is a firewall between the two institutions; whether ADNOC has access to COP28 meetings and strategic documents; if the staff working on the climate conference are relying on the oil giant’s IT systems; if part of the work will be devoted to protecting ADNOC’s interests; and whether the climate team is being paid by the oil company.
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“The COP28 team is still being established and staff are housed in several different locations. Their dedicated office space is due to be available before the end of the month. In the meantime, there are clear governance guidelines in place to ensure the team can operate entirely independently from any other entity. The funding for the team and its activities have been entirely provided by the UAE government,” the COP28 office told reporters from Politico.
Al Jaber has said he has no intention of stepping back from his role as head of the state-owned oil company and the UN now seeks to know how much time he’s planning to devote to the new obligation, and whether senior members of staff will be ready to replace him at times when he will be unavailable due to duties linked to his other jobs.
The decision to name him as COP28 president has sparked concern from campaigners including NGOs like Oil Price International that saw his appointment as a “breathtaking conflict of interest” and said his selection amounted to “putting the head of a tobacco company in charge of negotiating an anti-smoking treaty.”
However, he has been endorsed by climate heavyweights such as EU climate chief Frans Timmermans, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, France’s Minister for energy transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher, and the nation of Denmark.
Story was adapted from Politico.