What you need to know:
- Green washing is a term used in the climate arena to describe false marketing and advertising strategies designed to deceive stakeholders into believing that a particular product is environmentally friendly.
As the Conference of the Parties (COP28) draws near, calls are growing loud around the world to have the host country, the United Arab Emirates, reconsider its decision to appoint Dr Sultan Al Jaber as the president of the COP due to his fossil fuel job as CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.
A number of activists based in Kenya have signed a global petition pushing for Al Jaber’s removal and have demanded that the government too signs the petition. But the government says it will not do such a thing and it will in fact work with the COP28 president-designate to deliver on Africa’s climate agenda.
Late last month, members of the United States Congress and the European Parliament called for replacement of Dr Al Jaber because of his involvement in fossil fuel production. In an official letter on the White House Senate website co-signed and addressed to US President Joe Biden, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN Executive Secretary Simon Stiell voiced concerns about the influence of polluters at climate conferences.
They suggested that measures should be taken to expose the polluters attending the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). “This will help ensure that climate science takes precedence over climate delay and green washing,” they said
Green washing is a term used in the climate arena to describe false marketing and advertising strategies designed to deceive stakeholders into believing that a particular product is environmentally friendly. A week later after the joint letter to President Biden, Ms Ursula von der Leyen would abandon ship and back Dr Al Jaber.
“Today in Brussels, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans and High-Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell met with COP28 President Designate Sultan Al-Jaber to discuss preparations for COP28, the 2023 UNFCCC climate conference (the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Chang).
They reconfirmed today their commitment to work together to facilitate the highest possible ambition at this year’s UNFCCC conference, and agreed on the importance of several critical elements that could frame an ambitious COP28 outcome,” COP28 Presidency announced.
But according to Kenya’s climate change envoy at the Office of the President Ali Mohammed, who spoke exclusively to Climate Action, Kenya is supportive of UAE’s position to host COP28 and does not wish to interfere in a sovereign decision to appoint Dr Al Jaber as head of this year’s world biggest climate meet.
“As Kenya we are not interested in individuals at the helm. We are aware that UAE is the largest investor in renewable energy and singling out UAE or Dr Al Jaber does not hold any water as we will not challenge a sovereign decision to have him as COP28 President because UAE is within their right to choose whoever they wish,” he said.
“We are not for against anybody because COP has been held on Poland more than once. Poland is one of the biggest coal producers in the world and we did not see anyone raise issues about it, even when COP was held in Qatar, so why single-out UAE or Dr Sultan Al Jaber?” He posed.
COP28 CEO Adnan Amin, a Kenyan diplomat and a development economist with a specialty in sustainable development, said he believes that a pragmatic, well thought out energy transition is in everyone’s interest and requires the input of the entire energy system.
“The COP process should not be politicised and turned into an impotent echo chamber that does not address the real needs of people affected by climate change,” he said.
Dr Al Jaber was recently in Nairobi for the Africa Energy Forum and was scheduled to meet African civil society groups under the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, but PACJA declined the meeting invitation on grounds of Al Jaber’s oil ties.