Biden, Dems At Odds Over Ousting UN Climate President Over Oil Ties

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Arjun Singh Contributor
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A group of Democratic members of Congress rebuked the Biden administration in a letter Tuesday for supporting the appointment of an Emirati oil company executive to head the U.N. climate change conference.

The letter, signed by 34 Democratic senators and representatives, says that Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, who is CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) – the state-owned oil producer of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – should be dismissed as president of COP28, the annual U.N.-organized climate change conference set to take place in Dubai this year. Al Jaber, who was appointed by the UAE, has been backed by Biden’s Climate Envoy, John Kerry, who has called him a “terrific choice” for the post. (RELATED: Climate Groups Express Frustration As US, G7 Allies Continue Support For Foreign Fossil Fuels)

“The decision to name as president of COP28 the chief executive of one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies—a company that has recently announced plans to add 7.6 billion barrels of oil to its production in the coming years — risks undermining the negotiations,” wrote the Democrats, including senior members such as Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rep. Adam Schiff of California. They were joined by 98 members of the European Parliament, representing mostly left-wing parties.

Letter to Pres. Biden, Et. Al. About Sultan Al Juber by Daily Caller News Foundation on Scribd

Kerry, however, endorsed Al Jaber’s candidacy after attending a conference in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. ”

That company knows it needs to transition,” he said, referring to the ADNOC and transitions of energy sources away from fossil fuels, adding that “[t]he leadership of the UAE is committed to transitioning.”

At that conference, Al Jaber said that “[we] must be honest with ourselves about how much progress we have actually achieved, and how much further and faster we truly need to go,” in relation to energy transitions. Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California, a signatory, called the appointment “a slap in the face to young climate activists,” in comments to the Washington Post.

Democrats’ divide over Al Jaber comes as the U.S. and UAE deepen cooperation on foreign policy. The country’s Jebel Ali Port is the most frequently-used “port of call” for U.S. Navy ships in the world and is located in the Persian Gulf, a theater for military activities by Iran.

The U.S. also maintains military facilities at the Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi and a naval base in Fujairah. Additionally, the UAE has committed to purchase $29 billion worth of armaments from U.S. companies and signed Abraham Accords arranged by President Donald Trump in 2020 to normalize relations between Arab states and Israel.

Apart from Al Juber’s ouster, the letter demands that any corporations participating in COP28 submit disclosures of any “climate-related lobbying, campaign contributions, and funding of trade associations and organizations active on energy and climate issues.” It noted that, at the last COP summit, “636 lobbyists from the oil and gas industries registered to attend…an increase of more than 25% over the previous year.”

A U.S. government official told the Daily Caller News Foundation that “The UAE is a crucial partner in advancing our joint efforts to combat the climate crisis, including through their COP28 leadership,” and that “Dr. Sultan al-Jaber is an experienced diplomat and business leader.”

Kerry has been contacted with a request for comment.

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