The uproar over the new COP28 President

Source- The post is based on the article “The uproar over the new COP28 President” published in “The Hindu” on 23rd June 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Environment

Relevance– Issues related to climate change

News- Questions are being raised over the COP28 Presidency of United Arab Emirates (UAE) Industry Minister Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber.

Who is Sultan al-Jaber?

Mr. al-Jaber has been the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company since 2016. He was appointed as UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology in 2020.

Also in 2020, he was for the second time appointed as the UAE’s special envoy for climate change.

His team has been accused of attempting to “greenwash” his image. It emerged that members of his team had edited Wikipedia pages that talked about his role as CEO of ADNOC.

Why is Sultan al-Jaber’s appointment facing criticism?

There is discontent with the appointment of an oil executive to head a summit focussed on mitigating climate change.

The decision to name the chief executive of one of the world’s largest fossil-fuel base companies as president of COP28 risks undermining the negotiations.

Reducing carbon emissions is a necessity in the fight against climate change. There is a need to reduce the production and use of fossil fuel resources.

Al-Jaber does not talk about a concrete plan to phase out fossil fuels. ADNOC 2030 strategy is to build a more profitable upstream, more valuable downstream and more sustainable and economic gas supply.

The appointment is a perfect example of a conflict of interest. It is like putting the tobacco industry in charge of ending smoking.

Experts also highlight that it is in the UAE’s national interest to continue the production of fossil fuels as the 10th largest oil producer in the world.

Why has Mr. al-Jaber’s advocacy of carbon capture been criticised?

On climate goals, some world leaders have been pushing for a phaseout of fossil fuels. Others insist on oil and gas continuing to play a role in the future, provided their emissions are curbed. Mr. al-Jaber belongs to the latter school of thought.

Climate campaigners and scientists have expressed caution that technologies proposed so far to capture fossil fuel emissions have not been tested at scale.

They also argue that such responses do not hit at the root cause of the problem and propose containment once emissions are released. Such responses could divert attention and resources from effective alternatives such as renewable energy.

Carbon capture and storage technologies should only be restricted to sectors where cutting emissions is extremely hard, such as the cement industry.

Mr. al-Jaber has talked about the need to tackle fossil fuel emissions. As per him, the goal should be a global system “free of unabated fossil fuels”. It is related to reducing or capturing greenhouse gas emissions.

As per al-Jaber, his country wants “a comprehensive, holistic approach to an energy transition that includes all sources of energy.”

Developing nations like Bangladesh and the Maldives have also said that fossil fuel-dependent economies are critical to climate negotiation and mitigation efforts. They have a more difficult task in defining their energy transition strategy.

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