Hundreds of climate and environmental groups have criticised the nomination of an oil executive to oversee the United Nations climate negotiations at Cop28 this year.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), host of the UN climate talks this year, named Sultan al-Jaber to the presidency of the conference from November 30 to December 12.
The company he runs as chief executive, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, produces four million barrels of crude oil per day and hopes to expand to five million daily by the end of the decade.
Revenues generated from the sale of that oil are critical to the economic health of the UAE, which is among the world’s top 10 oil producers.
And the burning of that oil creates carbon dioxide emissions while the climate crisis is worsening.
Activists said the selection of Mr al-Jaber “threatens the legitimacy and efficacy” of the conference.
“There is no honour in appointing a fossil fuel executive who profits immensely off of fuelling the climate crisis, to oversee the global response to climate change,” read the letter to UN officials.
The letter goes on to say the nomination of an oil executive to oversee the climate talks exemplifies the influence that fossil fuel companies have over international climate policy.
Some of the world’s largest environmental and climate action groups, such as 350.org, Friends of the Earth International and Greenpeace, signed the letter, along with five of the nine coalitions of non-governmental organisations that represent different sectors of the global population at the climate talks.
The groups said leadership of the climate talks must be free of fossil fuel influence.
In addition, they demanded fossil fuel companies be excluded from sponsorships, partnerships and rule-making processes at the conference and that it needs to focus on those most affected by climate change in the negotiations and solutions.
Before the letter, several others had weighed in on the nomination of Mr al-Jaber.
John Kerry, the United States’ climate envoy, backed the nomination.
Former US vice president and climate leader Al Gore criticised the selection of Mr al-Jaber during the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this month.
Activists with the youth climate action group Fridays for Future also voiced their unhappiness with the move while in Davos.