The head of an oil company will be leading world climate discussions this fall, and legislators globally are calling for his removal.
Sultan Al Jaber, head of the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, has been named as the head of COP28, the annual climate conference held by the United Arab Emirates where world leaders work to address climate change.
Lawmakers from both Congress and the European Parliament have since drafted a letter seeking to oust him from his position at the conference, as they say it will damage the integrity of the gathering.
“With commonsense reforms to help restore public faith in the COP process severely jeopardized by having an oil company executive at the helm,” the letter reads, “we respectfully submit that different leadership is necessary to help ensure that COP28 is a serious and productive climate summit.”
Adnan Amin, the chief executive of the COP28 talks, has defended the decision to name Al Jaber as president of the conference, citing his 20 years of experience in renewable energy. Lawmakers argue that his in the fossil fuel industry will still overshadow any experience elsewhere.
"In this moment of great urgency, we must unblock the barriers that have kept us from advancing strong global collaboration to address climate change," the letter continues. "One of the largest barriers to strong climate action has been and remains the political influence and obstruction of the fossil fuel industry and other major polluting industries."
Lawmakers say that the fossil fuel industry already has an undue influence on policy worldwide through lobbying, and that the conference Al Jaber is set to lead specifically aims to curtail their effect and damage on legislation and the environment.
"We have seen their negative influence in our home institutions; oil companies and their industry cheerleaders have spent billions of dollars lobbying both the European Parliament, other European institutions and Member States, and the U.S. Congress in order to obstruct or water down climate policy for years," it reads. "While we acknowledge that engaging with industry can play a role, we must consider this particular industry’s track record on climate."