Mark Carney, the United Nations special envoy for climate action and finance, said the outcome of COP28 will depend on the host country’s ability to confront the fossil fuel industry.
“All countries should be judged on the basis of their contribution,” Carney told POLITICO’s Power Play podcast, ahead of the summit scheduled to begin Thursday in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“And that goes for a country (the UAE) that is one of the leading producers of oil and gas, and also one of the leading producers of renewable energy,” he added.
The United Arab Emirates, home to some of the world’s largest oil reserves, has drawn criticism for the appointment of Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber as COP president, despite his role as CEO of its national oil company.
Climate activist Greta Thunberg, for example, said the appointment of al-Jaber – who is also chairman of the board of directors of the UAE National Renewable Energy Corporation – was “completely ridiculous”.
Al-Jaber’s ties to the oil industry made headlines earlier this week when leaked documents – released after the recording of this episode of Power Play – showed the UAE planned to take advantage from their position as host of talks to discuss oil and gas deals with a dozen countries.
On Wednesday, al-Jaber told reporters the reports were “false, false, incorrect” and “an attempt to undermine the work of the COP28 presidency.”
Asked about al-Jaber’s appointment, Carney said, “the president of the COP is the president of the COP, and it’s our job to make it work.”
But, he added, this year’s achievements of the world’s highest climate summit will also be assessed based on “how much of this COP president’s leadership has been to take the climate industry head on.” energy, oil and gas industry and to challenge this industry. “
“Let’s see who stands up in the UAE at the COP among the oil and gas companies and countries and we will start to judge who is performing and who is not,” Carney said.
Carney, a former Bank of England governor, also criticized UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s recent changes to some key green policies, which critics say undermine the UK’s goal of reaching zero emissions net carbon emissions by 2050.
“If you start zigzagging on climate policy, questioning your commitment, you’re setting yourself up for a more difficult adjustment in the future,” Carney said. “There are early signs of this in the UK, which is unfortunate.”
Karl Mathiesen contributed reporting.