Why is an oil company CEO leading the UN’s climate talks?

'It would be laughable were it not so serious'

Listen | 22:34

On Thursday, the 28th annual UN Climate Change conference, also known as Cop28, will kick off in Dubai, hosted by the United Arab Emirates.

This year’s climate summit, which comes following another record-breaking year of droughts, floods and wildfires, brings together world leaders, ministers and negotiators to agree on how to address climate change.

This year, however, the summit is being led by Sultan Al Jaber, chief executive of the UAE’s oil and gas company Adnoc.

The announcement that Mr Al Jaber’s would lead the talks was met with international shock and condemnation – campaigners say it’s like an antismoking forum being run by the head of a tobacco company.


The UAE have also been accused of planning to use the summit to strike oil and gas deals.

But, why are fossil fuel lobbyists allowed a seat at the table at the world’s most important climate talks? And how can Mr Al Jaber reconcile this enormous conflict of interest?

On today’s podcast, Patrick Galey, a journalist and senior fossil fuels investigator with Global Witness, reflects on the implications of placing an oil chief executive at the top of the climate talks, and examines whether any meaningful change will come from this year’s summit.

Today, on In the News, why is an oil company CEO running this year’s climate talks?

Presented by Sorcha Pollak. Produced by Suzanne Brennan.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast