Sultan al-Jaber, head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and president of COP28, said nothing about his connections to fossil fuels in a Thursday appearance in Bonn, Germany, in the leadup to the UN conference in November. His comments largely focused on his desire to make the November event inclusive for young people. The appearance came just days after reporting of an army of fake social media bots praising him as “the ally the climate movement needs,” as well as the UAE’s hiring of major public relations firms to burnish its image ahead of COP28.
The remarks landed just as multiple reports warned of the gulf between current and needed action to address the climate crisis. A study published Thursday in Earth System Science Data found global climate pollution has reached unprecedented levels, burning through half the planet’s “carbon budget” for meeting the Paris Agreement goals in just three years. Another study, published Thursday in Science, found the vast majority of countries’ net-zero plans lack credibility, a report from Climate Focus warned the Russian war in Ukraine has substantially undermined efforts to address climate change, and the vast majority of major global companies have done basically nothing to address climate change in the last five years. (al-Jaber: AP; Social media bots: The Guardian; PR firms: Politico/E&E News; Emissions & carbon budget: The Guardian, Bloomberg $, Washington Post $, FT $; Russian war: CNN; Businesses: CNN)