Fresh revelations have emerged that at least a dozen employees from the United Arab Emirate’s state-owned oil company have taken up roles with the office of the UAE’s climate change special envoy which is the host of this year’s Cop28 UN climate summit.
The new development adds to growing concerns over the ability of the team hosting this year’s summit to take bold decisions on phasing out fossil fuel and transiting to clean energy, a discussion that was believed to have been watered when the last summit was hosted in Egypt, as it is linked to the oil-rich country’s influential fossil fuel industry.
According to a report by the independent investigative group Centre for Climate Reporting (CCR) which did an analysis of LinkedIn accounts that belonged to the officials, some of them were employed in the UAE’s oil and gas industry before taking up roles in the Cop28 team.
Among the officials are two former Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) engineers whose LinkedIn profiles suggest they may not have a background in international climate diplomacy but will act as negotiators on behalf of the UAE at the conference.
The findings are coming at the back of a recent announcement by the UAE that Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, the chief executive of Adnoc, will preside over the conference in November while retaining his role at the oil company, a decision that has been condemned by Climate campaigners and some politicians, many of whom have called for al-Jaber to give up his oil role while hosting the summit, to avoid any conflict of interest.
“If we don’t make some dramatic changes, Cop28 is going to be the lost climate summit. To somehow pretend that all of this fossil fuel personnel and all of these connections are not a massive threat to the entire conference goes beyond naive,” Jared Huffman, a US congressman was reported as saying in a letter last week where a call was made to the special presidential envoy for climate, John Kerry, to lobby the UAE to remove al-Jaber from his post as Cop28 president.
However, Sami Joost, a spokesperson for the UAE climate change special envoy, has defended his boss by claiming “the individuals who are being hired have come from a variety of backgrounds and sectors … Once in post, these individuals are entirely focused on the job of delivering Cop28 and have no obligations to their former employers.”
Some other records also suggest that some members of the Cop28 team may be working in the same building as the oil company, a development that prompted the United Nations to question the UAE delegation’s independence from Adnoc, according to a recent Politico report.
Meanwhile, the UAE has promised that this year’s climate change conference will be an “inclusive Cop which brings all perspectives to the table”. The UAE has invested heavily in renewable energy but has continued to increase oil production.
Story was adapted from the Guardian.