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"Big Oil" Belongs in Climate Fight - COP28 Chief

FILE: Representative illustration of oil field. Taken Dec. 13, 2009
FILE: Representative illustration of oil field. Taken Dec. 13, 2009

The energy industry must play a role in the campaign to tackle global warming, the president of this year's UN climate talks said on Tuesday, denying any "conflict of interest" despite his being the chief of a huge oil producer.

Sultan Al Jaber, who heads oil giant ADNOC and is the United Arab Emirates' special envoy for climate change, also called for "policies that are pro-growth and pro-climate".

"The energy transition will require every segment of society working together in an inclusive effort, and that surely means including the efforts of the energy industry," he told the India Energy Week conference in Bengaluru.

"It's not a conflict of interest, it is in our common interest to have the energy industry working alongside everyone on the solutions that the world needs."

Climate activists have criticized the decision to hold COP28 in the UAE, a major oil producer, and the choice of Al Jaber as the meeting's president.

The Gulf monarchy, which will host COP28 in Dubai in November and December, argues that oil remains indispensable to the global economy.

Al Jaber added that the energy transition could bring "the greatest leap in economic prosperity since the first industrial revolution".

"The world still needs hydrocarbons and will need them to bridge from the current energy system to the new one," he said.

"We cannot unplug the current energy system before we have built the new one. As such, we must minimize their carbon footprint (and) only invest in the least carbon-intensive barrels".

Al Jaber promised to use his experience and connections to "convene the entire energy industry to speed things up".

COP27, held in Egypt in November, concluded with the adoption of a hotly contested text on aid to low-income countries affected by climate change, but failed to set new ambitions for lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

"We must eliminate energy poverty, while keeping 1.5 alive," said Al Jaber, referring to the goal of restricting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

"And we need to move from talking about goals, to getting the job done."