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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

John Kerry backs UAE appointment of oil chief to oversee UN climate talks | COP28

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry backed the United Arab Emirates’ decision to appoint the chief executive of a state-run oil company to chair upcoming U.N. climate talks in Dubai, citing his work on renewable energy projects.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, the former U.S. secretary of state acknowledged that the UAE and other countries that rely on fossil fuels to fund their treasuries face the problem of finding “some kind of balance” in the future.

However, he dismissed the idea that Sultan al-Jabir’s appointment was automatically disqualified for his leadership of ADNOC. However, activists equated it with a demand that “arms dealers lead the peace talks”. When authorities announced his nomination on Thursday.

“I think Dr. Sultan al-Jaber was a fantastic choice because he was the head of the company. That company knew it needed to transform,” Kerry said after attending an energy conference in the UAE capital. “He knows — the leadership in the UAE is committed to the transition.”

Still, Abu Dhabi plans to increase its crude oil production from 4 million barrels per day to 5 million barrels per day, despite the UAE’s pledge to become carbon neutral by 2050 – a goal that remains difficult to assess and still hasn’t been fully explained by the UAE. how the goal will be achieved.

Kerry referred to a speech Al Jaber gave in Abu Dhabi on Saturday in which he called for the upcoming COP to “move from goals to completion of mitigation, adaptation, financing and loss and damage”. Al-Jaber also warned that the world “must be honest with ourselves about how much progress we’ve actually made, and how much further and faster we really need to go”.

“He made it clear that we can’t move fast enough. We have to reduce emissions. We have to start dramatically accelerating that transition,” Kerry said. “So I’m very confident that the right questions will be put on the table and they will respond to that and lead countries to recognize their responsibilities.”

Each year, the country hosting the UN negotiations nominates a person to lead the talks. Hosts usually choose an experienced diplomat because navigating talks between competing countries and their interests is difficult. The nominee’s position as “Chairman” is confirmed by delegates at the start of talks, usually without dissent.

Al-Jaber is a trusted confidant of UAE leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. He also led a once-ambitious project to build a $22 billion “carbon-neutral” city on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi — a project that was scaled back after the 2008 global financial crisis devastated the UAE. Today, he also serves as chairman of Masdar, a clean energy company that grew out of that project.

Activists, however, remain skeptical of al-Jaber. Countries including India and the United States called for a gradual reduction in oil and gas use during COP 27 in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in November, but it never sparked public discussion.

Activists fear something similar could happen in the UAE, where police are being held for the second year in a row in a Middle Eastern country reliant on fossil fuel sales.

Asked about that fear, Kerry said: “I don’t think the UAE is involved in changing that.”

“There will be a level of scrutiny — I think it will be very constructive,” said the former U.S. senator and 2004 presidential candidate. “It’s going to help people, you know, stay online here.”

“I think this is an era, a new era of accountability,” he added.

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