Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, the controversial COP28 President-designate, has said the Paris agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is “non-negotiable.’ 

His remarks came as he spoke Wednesday at the World Sustainable Development Summit in New Delhi on Wednesday, as The National reported. 

“It is also clear that business as usual won’t get us there,” he said further, as The Hindustan Times reported. “We need a paradigm shift in our approach to mitigation, adaptation, finance, and loss and damage.” 

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) ignited concerns from climate activists in January when it named Al Jaber as president of the upcoming COP28 UN climate conference in Dubai from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12. That was because Al Jaber is also group CEO and managing director of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), leading some to worry that the fossil fuel industry would play an outsized role in shaping the outcome of the negotiations. A group of nearly 30 U.S. lawmakers even wrote to Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry asking him to persuade the UAE to choose someone else.

“The decision to name the chief executive of one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies as president of the next U.N. Climate Change Conference risks jeopardizing climate progress from successive U.N. Climate Conferences,” they wrote. 

Al Jaber is also the UAE’s climate envoy and the CEO of a renewable energy company called Masdar, and Kerry himself has defended his appointment. In an interview with The Associated Press shortly after Al Jaber’s appointment, Kerry pointed to a speech Al Jaber had given that reflected the urgency of the climate crisis.

Al Jaber struck a similar tone in New Delhi this week, in which he seemed to embrace a transition to renewable energy.

“[We need to] rapidly build the clean energy systems of tomorrow while making the energy systems of today much cleaner,” he said, as Argus reported. “We need to accelerate an energy transition that leaves no one behind, particularly the 800mn of people across the global south who have no access to energy today.”

Specifically, he spoke of the need to triple renewable energy capacity and double hydrogen production while also improving nuclear capacity, battery storage, carbon capture and efficiency, according to The National. He also said it was important to transform the global food system and mobilize investment from international banks and other financial institutions. 

“[S]caling and accelerating climate finance will be one of the key goals of the Cop28 presidency, and we will rally all relevant parties in an effort to get it done,” he said, as The National reported.

Al Jaber further emphasized the ways in which the UAE and India could work together on bolstering renewable energy capacity. India has promised to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2070 and create 500 gigawatts of non-fossil fuel electricity capacity by 2030.

“India’s goal of adding 500 gigawatts of clean energy in the next seven years is a powerful statement of intent. And, as one of the largest investors in renewables, the UAE will explore all opportunities for partnership with India to contribute to its high growth, low carbon pathway,” Al Jaber said.

Before his speech, Al Jaber also met with Indian officials Union Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav and Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar, as The Hindustan Times reported.

“Good to meet Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology of UAE and COP 28 President designate. Exchanged perspectives on taking forward our shared priorities during India’s G20 Presidency and @COP28_UAE,” Jaishankar tweeted, as The Hindustan Times reported.


Dr. Sultan Al Jaber


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Tags: Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, COP28 President-Designate