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'Ridiculous': Greta Thunberg criticizes decision to let UAE oil chief chair climate talks | Davos 2023

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Four years after taking the World Economic Forum by storm, Greta Thunberg returned to Davos on Thursday to criticize the UAE for appointing the head of its state-owned oil company to chair the Cop28 climate talks later this year.

Thunberg said it was “completely ridiculous” that Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), would chair the next round of global climate talks in Dubai in November.

She said at an event on the sidelines of the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos that lobbyists have been influencing these conferences “since, basically, forever.”

“It just puts a very clear face to it,” she added. “It is completely ridiculous.”

Luisa Neubauer, a German climate activist, also called the measure “ridiculous”, but not new, as lobbyists gathered at the last Cop meeting in Egypt.

Helena Gualinga, from an indigenous community in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador, said the UAE’s action sent the message that the climate issue was not being taken seriously.

“I just think it sends a message of where we’re going now if we’re getting the heads of fossil fuel companies to lead the climate talks,” Gualinga said.

In November, ADNOC’s board decided to bring forward its target to expand its oil production to 5 million barrels per day by 2027 from 2030 to meet growing global energy demand.

In response to activists’ comments, a Cop28 spokesperson insisted that al-Jaber – who founded renewable energy company Masdar in 2006 – was “uniquely qualified to deliver a successful Cop28”.

A Cop28 spokesperson said: “Dr. Sultan is an energy expert and founder of one of the world’s leading renewable energy companies, a senior business leader, a government minister and a climate diplomat with over 20 years experience in climate action.”

Thunberg also demanded that fossil fuel bosses immediately stop opening new fossil fuel extraction sites.

A “cease and desist” order signed by Thunberg and fellow Ugandan activists Gualinga, Neubauer and Vanessa Nakate said Big Oil has known for decades that fossil fuels cause a climate meltdown and has misled the public and misled politicians. .

“You must end these activities as they directly violate our human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, your duty of care, as well as the rights of indigenous peoples,” the notice reads.

The people fueling the planet’s destruction the most, who are at the heart of the climate crisis by investing in fossil fuels, are in Davos, Thunberg said.

“And yet, somehow, these are the people we seem to trust to solve our problems, where they’ve proven time and time again that they’re not prioritizing it,” she said. “They are prioritizing their own greed, corporate greed and short-term economic gains over people and over the planet.”

Thunberg said it was “absurd” to listen to these people rather than those on the front lines of the climate crisis.

Greta Thunberg in Davos: It’s absurd that we listen to those who cause the climate crisis

Nakate said the climate crisis is evident in the most affected areas, such as the Horn of Africa, where children suffer from severe and acute malnutrition.

The quartet was joined by Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency.

In 2021, the IEA said that exploration and development of new oil and gas fields must stop that year if the world is to reach the goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

On Thursday, Birol said he was “very happy” that activists were pushing the climate agenda.

Birol warned that it might not make sense for banks to finance new fossil fuel projects.

Asked about the banks financing new generation oil and gas despite their net zero promises, Birol said it was “their money”, not the IEA’s. But he added there is a risk that demand will not be there when new oil fields come on stream, perhaps six or seven years after the decision to drill is made.

In 2019, Thunberg warned Davos delegates that “our house is on fire,” after traveling by train to the ski resort on a 32-hour journey and camping with climate scientists on mountain slopes – where temperatures have plummeted to -18°C.