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Cop28 president-designate hits back at critics even as his company increases oil drilling investments

THE Emirati president-designate for the upcoming United Nations Cop28 climate conference hit back on Saturday at critics of his appointment, even as the firm he leads increases investment in fossil fuel extraction.

Climate activists have roundly criticised Sultan al-Jaber’s appointment as the president-designate of the talks because he serves as the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

But Mr Jaber dismissed the critics as people who “just go on the attack without knowing anything, without knowing who we are.”

Speaking to an audience in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, Mr Jaber pointed to his 20 years of work on renewable energy as a sign that he and the Emirates represent the best chance to reach a consensus to address climate change worldwide.

He said: “The world, for whatever reason, only views us as an oil and gas nation.

“We have moved beyond oil and gas. We embraced the energy transition 20 years ago.”

He added: “We don’t become passionate or ideological or so emotional. We’re business-oriented. We’re results-driven.”

Although Mr Jaber, a trusted confidant of UAE leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, has been behind tens of billions of dollars spent or pledged toward renewable energy, he also leads an oil company that extracts some four million barrels of crude every day.

Mr Jaber told the audience: “Some are promoting the fact that we can just unplug the world from the current energy system and with a flick of a switch, we can just initiate a new energy system.”

He added: “We need to sober up and be more realistic and more practical.”

But last week, the company added three new rigs to its fleet, becoming the world’s largest operator of the state-of-the-art self-elevating mobile oil drilling platforms.

A report last week by international climate experts slammed the “hypocrisy” of some developed countries for their continued expansion of fossil fuel production despite lofty promises to combat the climate emergency.

The report, Planet Wreckers: How 20 Countries Oil and Gas Extraction Plans Risk Locking in Climate Chaosn, challenges the major polluters to come clean at Cop28 and demonstrate leadership.

The report reveals how planned fossil fuel extraction projects in countries such as Britain, Norway, the United States, Canada and the UAE would cause oil and gas extraction to increase to 2030 or beyond, against scientific modelling that suggests production must immediately begin to rapidly decline.


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