Former Marshallese President Hilda Heine

Hilda Heine, then-president of the Marshall Islands, speaks at the 108th Session of the International Labor Conference in Geneva on June 20, 2019.

(Photo: International Labor Organization)

COP28 Adviser Quits Over Alleged UAE Oil and Gas Deal-Making

"These actions undermine the integrity of the COP presidency and the process as a whole," former Marshallese President Hilda Heine wrote in her resignation letter to COP28 chief Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber.

United Nations Climate Change Conference advisory board member Hilda Heine resigned on Friday, citing reports that the Emirati oil executive presiding over COP28 has been busy pushing for fossil fuel deals in the run-up to the event.

Earlier this week, the Center for Climate Reporting and the BBC reported that Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber—who is simultaneously serving as COP28 president and CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)—"has held scores of meetings with senior government officials, royalty, and business leaders from around the world in recent months" as the "COP28 team has quietly planned to use this access as an opportunity to increase exports of ADNOC's oil and gas."

"These actions undermine the integrity of the COP presidency and the process as a whole."

In her resignation letter, which was seen and first reported by Reuters, Heine—who is a former president of the low-lying Marshall Islands, one of the world's most climate-imperiled nations—called the United Arab Emirates' plan to make oil and gas deals at COP28 "deeply disappointing."

"These actions undermine the integrity of the COP presidency and the process as a whole," she asserted, adding that the only way Al Jaber can restore confidence is to "deliver an outcome that demonstrates that you are committed to phasing out fossil fuels."

Al Jaber has denied that he's using COP28 for fossil fuel deal-making.

"These allegations are false, not true, incorrect, and not accurate," he said Wednesday at a Dubai press conference. "And it's an attempt to undermine the work of the COP28 presidency."

A spokesperson for COP28's presidency said they are "extremely disappointed by Dr. Heine's resignation."

"We appreciated her advice throughout the year and that we only wish she would have been with us here in the UAE celebrating the adoption of a fund that will support vulnerable island states and those most affected by climate impacts," the spokesperson said, referring to the global "loss and damage" fund that one critic slammed as "a drop in the ocean compared to the scale of the need they are to address."

The UAE isn't the only major oil producer pushing fossil fuels while participating in COP28. Saudi Arabia—whose Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday was among the world leaders kicking off talks at the conference—"is overseeing a sweeping global investment program" intended to "ensure that emerging economies across Africa and Asia become vastly more dependent on oil," the Center for Climate Reporting and Channel 4 News revealed this week.

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