12th January 2023, London – News today that Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, has been appointed president of this year’s UN climate talks, is a harsh blow to any hope for progress on weaning the world off fossil fuels, according to Global Witness.

Analysis by Global Witness found that 636 fossil fuel lobbyists were granted access to last year’s COP in Egypt, affiliated with some of the world's biggest polluting oil and gas giants. Al Jaber was amongst this number, registered to COP27 as CEO of the Abu Dhabi state owned oil firm, ADNOC. Al Jaber is also UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for the Climate.

The UAE, which will host this year’s talks in November, registered at least 70 fossil fuel lobbyists to COP27 – more than any other country.

Alice Harrison, Fossil Fuels Campaign Leader at Global Witness said,

“You wouldn’t invite arm dealers to lead peace talks. So why let oil executives lead climate talks? Burning fossil fuels is the single largest cause of the climate crisis, and the single biggest threat to solving it.”

“Renewable energy is now cheap and abundant. But fossil fuel companies are working hard to keep skin in the game, and sadly the UN is rolling out the red carpet to them. This blatant conflict of interest at the heart of this year’s climate talks threatens to torpedo them before they’ve even begun. The UNFCCC urgently needs to intervene and kick big polluters out of climate talks.”

Hosting crucial climate talks in a repressive petrostate is one thing, having a fossil fuel CEO as its President is just mad. Even at this early stage it’s difficult to see how COP28 can lead to any positive progress on the climate crisis, when run by those with a stake in the continued burning of fossil fuels.”

Global Witness analysis of COP27 delegates revealed that the UAE delegation included Abu Dhabi’s National Energy Company, TAQA, whose 33 delegates appeared to form the biggest group of fossil fuel lobbyists at COP27. This was followed by 22 people from the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), seemingly the COP’s second largest fossil fuel lobby group.

An anonymised list of all COP27 delegates classified as fossil fuel lobbyists is available here