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The head of global climate change talks starting in Dubai this week has strongly denied using his position to advance the United Arab Emirates’ commercial interests.

COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber said reports that he is seeking to advance oil and gas deals during climate meetings with foreign governments ahead of COP28 were “false, not true, incorrect and not accurate.” He was speaking to journalists ahead of the start of the biggest-ever United Nations climate negotiations. 

Al Jaber’s presidency has been controversial because he remains chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., one of the world’s largest oil producers. Earlier this week, the British Broadcasting Corp. in collaboration with the Center for Climate Reporting, released a cache of internal records leaked by a whistleblower. They included more than 150 pages of briefings for meetings held by Al Jaber between July and October. 

Oil and gas commercial interests appear as talking points in these documents, with the reporting showing on at least one occasion a nation followed up on discussions brought up during a meeting with Al Jaber. The documents also included briefing points related to Masdar, the renewable energy company Al Jaber chairs.

On Wednesday, Al Jaber said the report was “an attempt to undermine the work of the COP28 presidency.”

“I promise you never ever did I see these talking points that they referred to or that I ever used such talking points in my discussions,” he said in response to a question.  He said all of his meetings have been focused on how the world can collectively keep global temperature rise below 1.5C from pre-industrial levels.

“Sometimes I am told you need to engage with governments and oil and gas companies to put pressure, and sometimes I’m told ‘you can’t do that’ — I’m damned if we do and damned if we don’t,” he said.

 

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