There’s no conflict of interest between leading the United Nation’s next climate change summit in Dubai in December and heading the United Arab Emirates’ state oil giant at the same time, COP28 Director General said on Tuesday.
More than 100 members of Congress and the European Parliament last month urged U.S. President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to pressure the UAE government to oust Sultan al-Jaber from the COP job, saying his dual position could undermine negotiations.
Jaber, who also heads Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC), has argued since his appointment this year for a more inclusive approach to climate action that leaves no one behind, including the fossil fuel industry.
“I think that he’s perfectly positioned within our system. He understands the process, he understands the players, he has the political contacts,” COP28 Director General Majid Al Suwaidi told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday on the sidelines of UN climate talks in Bonn.
Al Suwaidi said having a CEO to head COP for the first time in the climate summits’ history, and moving away from having a purely political process, would help deliver results from the December meeting.
“We need a mindset of delivery. For the first time, Dr. Sultan is asking: What are the specific targets that are going to get us to achieve the goals of Paris by 2030?” Al Suwaidi said, adding that it was important to include the private sector in the negotiations.
“I’ve been in these negotiations for years … We’ve never really engaged the private sector to ask them how they can work with us to do that. At COP 28, we’re doing that,” he added.
Al Suwaidi dismissed criticism that the designate COP presidency has been vague about its agenda and timetable, saying his team put out the summit’s thematic days for comment a month ago and was now refining that according to the feedback received.
“I feel very confident that we’re on track,” he said.
The COP28 presidency does not yet have a clear concept of how a loss and damage fund for places affected by climate-fuelled disasters that was agreed to at the COP27 conference in Egypt last year would look like and where the money would come from or spent, Al Suwaidi added.
“That’s what the negotiators are doing at the moment in the transitional committee here at the Bonn discussions. We need them to make progress on this issue,” he said.