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U.S. lawmakers ask Kerry to urge UAE to replace oil boss as COP28 president


United Arab Emirates’ Industry Minister Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber speaks during the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, October 31, 2022. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky/File Photo

Over two dozen U.S. representatives on Friday called on top U.S. climate envoy John Kerry to urge the United Arab Emirates to withdraw its appointment of the head of its state oil company as president of the COP28 climate summit it will host this year.

The 27 Democratic members of Congress, led by California Congressman Jared Huffman, sent a letter to Kerry calling on him to persuade the future U.N. climate summit host to withdraw the appointment of Sultan Al Jaber, head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, who is charged with shepherding the next round of climate negotiations.

The lawmakers said the appointment jeopardizes the climate talks, which they say are already negatively influenced by the presence of fossil fuel lobbyists.

“It risks undermining the very essence of what is trying to be accomplished,” they wrote to Kerry.

“Furthermore, as some of us have urged future COPs should require any participating company to submit an audited corporate political influencing statement that discloses climate-related lobbying, campaign contributions, and funding of trade associations and organizations active on energy and climate,” they added.

On Jan. 12, Kerry congratulated the UAE on the selection of Jaber.

In an interview with Reuters last month, Kerry said having an oil state host the COP is a positive move because “it’s so important that you have an oil and gas producing nation step up and say we understand the challenge of the climate crisis.”

Al-Jaber, also UAE’s minister of industry and technology and its climate envoy, will help shape the conference’s agenda and intergovernmental negotiations to build consensus, his office said in a statement.

Campaigners and some delegates criticized COP27, saying fossil fuel producers had watered down emission reduction ambitions and benefited from sympathetic treatment from Egypt, a natural gas exporter and frequent recipient of Gulf funds.