In the first major climate conference since last November’s COP27, the iteration of last year’s UN climate change conference, thousands of attendees are heading to the United Arab Emirates this week for the annual Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) 2023.
This year’s event, organized by the UAE government and clean energy company Masdar, will take place from January 14 to 19 and will see heads of state, industry experts, investors and policymakers gather in the Gulf nation as new The way is opening up the industry. The theme of this year’s exhibition? Cooperative Action; Technology and Innovation; People, Planet and Profit; and Global Energy Transition. Other issues on the agenda include food and water security, energy access, industrial decarbonization, and health and climate adaptation.
Ultimately, though, this week’s event is seen as a warm-up for next November, when Abu Dhabi will be the host city of COP28. In fact, the tagline for ADSW 2023 is “Unite for climate action at COP28.
But ADSW 2023 and next year’s COP28 are not without controversy, most notably meetings involving the fossil fuel industry, which, at least in name, is meant to wean the world off its reliance on environmentally damaging energy sources.
At ADSW 2023, the main source of funding will be the OPEC International Development Fund, an arm of the oil-producing cartel. Also in Abu Dhabi this week was a high-profile delegation led by OPEC Director-General Dr Abdulhamid Al-Haifa, who commented at the meeting: “We stand ready to support our member countries. The UAE prepares and delivers on the critical COP28 summit and its push for solutions.”
While financial support is always welcome, its source—fossil fuel power plants—has many observers concerned that it would subvert the purpose and success of any sustainable development.
More controversial, however, was last week’s appointment of Sultan Al Jaber as COP28 president. Jaber is the head of Adnoc, the UAE’s national oil company, one of the world’s largest producers of fossil fuels.
Adnoc pumped nearly 3 million barrels of oil per day in 2021 and plans to nearly double its production by 2027. The target date is 2030, but it was proposed by Jaber two months ago.
Proponents of Jaber’s appointment point out that, in addition to leading Adnoc, he is also chairman of Masdar itself and the UAE’s minister of industry and advanced technology.