The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has nominated Sultan Al-Zaabi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), to chair the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) to be held in Dubai from late November to mid-December this year.
"This year will be an important year for climate action in the next 10 years," Al-Zaabi said in the state-run WAM news agency on Jan. 12, adding that the UAE is preparing for COP28 with a high level of goals and a strong sense of responsibility.
Al-Zaabi, who is also the UAE's climate envoy, said: "We expect to come up with practical and realistic solutions to achieve low-carbon economic growth while maintaining climate stability."
The UAE has the ability to mediate between countries to maintain the target of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, he said, adding that comprehensive discussions involving all stakeholders, including public and government as well as the private sector, will be held.
WAM said the UAE has invested $50 billion (about 62.3 trillion won) in renewable energy-related projects in 70 countries around the world and plans to implement similar investments over the next 10 years.
The UAE, one of the leading oil producers in the Middle East, produces about 4 million barrels of oil per day and has called for an increase in its production quota to 5 million barrels per day at a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
When the chairman of an oil company, which is considered a major cause of carbon emissions, was nominated as chairman of the COP, environmental groups and others immediately protested.
Harjeet Singh, executive director of the International Climate Action Network, which includes more than 1,900 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), told The Associated Press that "the chairman of an oil company chairing the COP is an incredible conflict of interest" and that "there can be no place for polluters at climate conferences."
Alice Harrison of the non-profit Global Witness quipped, "You can't involve arms dealers in peace talks against war," adding, "Why let oil company executives lead the talks?"
Each year, the host country of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change nominates a chair to lead the meeting. Typically, the chairman's nominee is confirmed at the opening meeting of the COP without opposition from the delegations.
Reconciling each country's interests around the climate agenda is so difficult that veteran diplomats from the host country have typically chaired the agenda, the AP explained.
Bloomberg reported that the chairman of a crude oil-producing company taking over as chairman of the COP could cause a lot of controversy. [YonhapNews]