The former U.S. vice president accused the United Arab Emirates of "abusing the public's trust" by naming the CEO of its national oil company as president of COP28.
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore said Sunday that fossil fuel interests have effectively seized the reins of the United Nations climate summit process, preventing the kind of ambitious action that scientists say is necessary to prevent catastrophic warming and all of its cascading impacts.
"This industry is way more effective at capturing politicians than they are at capturing emissions," Gore told Reuters on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai. "And they have captured the COP process itself now and overreached, abusing the public's trust by naming the CEO of one of the largest and least responsible oil companies in the world as head of the COP. It's an abuse of the public's right to have confidence in the processes by which the decisions about humanity's future are made."
Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, COP28 president and chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)—which is planning a massive expansion of oil and gas production in the coming years—has insisted that any deal reached at the critical climate summit must include fossil fuels .
Gore's interview with Reuters came after he delivered a presentation highlighting the UAE's rising greenhouse gas emissions. Citing data from Climate TRACE—an emissions tracking coalition that he co-founded—Gore said the UAE's planet-warming emissions rose 7.5% last year compared to 2021, while the rest of the world's rose 1.5%.
A Human Rights Watch report published Monday notes that the UAE's "dangerously high air pollution levels" are "creating major health risks for its citizens and residents." Pointing to World Health Organization estimates, the group observed that more than 1,800 people die from air pollution every year in the UAE.
"Even as the United Arab Emirates government works to burnish its image as a global climate leader," the report notes, "the country's vast fossil fuel production and use spew toxic pollutants into the air and contribute to climate change."