The United Arab Emirates said on Thursday that Sultan al-Jaber, the head of state oil giant ADNOC, would act as president of the COP28 climate conference it is hosting this year.
Jaber, also UAE's minister of industry and technology and its climate envoy, will help develop the COP28 agenda and play a central role in intergovernmental negotiations to build consensus, his office said in a statement.
The UAE, a major OPEC oil exporter, will be the second Arab state to host the climate conference after Egypt hosted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) 27th Conference of the Parties (COP 27) in 2022.
Some officials had criticized the outcome of the COP27 conference, saying fossil fuel producers had benefited from sympathetic treatment from Egypt, a natural gas exporter and frequent recipient of Gulf funds.
The Egyptian presidency denied any sympathetic treatment. As founding CEO of Abu Dhabi's renewable energy firm Masdar, in which ADNOC has a 24% stake, Jaber has green credentials, having overseen its mandate to adopt renewables in the UAE. He is also overseeing an acceleration of ADNOC's low-carbon growth strategy, approved late last year.
The UAE and other Gulf energy producers have called for a realistic energy transition in which hydrocarbons would continue playing a role to ensure energy security while making commitments to decarbonization. Demands from environmental groups and scientists that government and companies leave oil and gas in the ground have gained less traction since Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year and Europe's scramble for energy security.
The UAE, the first country in the region to ratify the Paris Agreement, has committed to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The COP28 conference will be the first global stocktake since the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015.
Jaber, who according to the statement, would be the first CEO to serve as COP president, said the UAE would bring "a pragmatic, realistic and solutions-oriented approach" to the conference. "We will take an inclusive approach that engages all stakeholders."
(Reuters - Reporting by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Himani Sarkar)