In stark incongruity, UAE oil firm staff to partake in hosting COP28
At least 12 officials from the body hosting COP28 appear to have been appointed directly from the fossil fuel industry.
At least a dozen employees from the state-owned oil corporation of the United Arab Emirates have reportedly joined the office of the UAE's climate change special envoy, who will host this year's COP28 UN climate summit.
The discovery adds to mounting concerns about the thin line between the team hosting this year's critical conference and the influential fossil fuel business in the oil-rich country.
Shockingly. the officials were presumably working in the UAE's oil and gas industry just before taking on responsibilities in the COP28 team, as per an investigation of LinkedIn accounts conducted by the independent investigative group Centre for Climate Reporting (CCR) and reportedly reviewed by The Guardian.
Among the officials are two former Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) engineers who will act as negotiators on the UAE's behalf at the summit, despite the fact that their LinkedIn profiles indicate that they may not have a history in international climate diplomacy.
According to LinkedIn accounts analyzed by CCR, two of the individuals were seconded from their employment at Adnoc. Meanwhile, key executives in the oil business have been "tasked with supporting" the UAE's hosting of the conference this year.
The findings come on the heels of the recent news that Adnoc CEO Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber will preside over the conference in November while continuing to work for the oil business. Climate activists and some politicians have urged Al-Jaber to relinquish his oil post while hosting the summit in order to avoid any conflict of interest.
On his account, US congressman Jared Huffman, who in a letter last week called on the special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry to urge the UAE to remove Al-Jaber from his post as COP28 President.
“To somehow pretend that all of these fossil fuel personnel and all of these connections are not a massive threat to the entire conference goes beyond naive,” he tersely stated.
In a stark revelation, records also indicated that at least some COP28 team members may be working in the same building as the oil business.
The UAE has claimed that this year's climate change conference, which will attract leaders from all over the world to Dubai to assess progress in addressing the climate emergency, will be an "inclusive Cop that brings all perspectives to the table."
On the ground, there is another story: the UAE sells itself as making significant investments in renewable energy while continuing to grow oil production.
The US public relations firm Edelman emailed scores of journalists last month, shortly after Al-Jaber was named COP28 President, promoting the UAE's commitment to renewable energy.
"We made a pledge last year to be the agency of choice for organizations engaged to climate change," said Michael Bush, Edelman's spokesperson. Bush stated that the organization was hired to work on COP28 as a result of its partnership with the Emirati renewable energy provider Masdar.
Masdar is a joint venture between Adnoc, Taqa, a state-owned fossil fuel firm, and an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund. Edelman has not disclosed the amount paid for the work.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair praised Al-Jaber's appointment as well.
It is worth noting that the UAE will host the UN-brokered climate talks from Nov. 30 through to Dec. 12 despite furious backlash from climate activists and civil society groups for hiring appointing the Abu Dhabi oil chief as president of the COP28 climate summit.