Greta Thunberg on Abu Dhabi oil chiefs COP28 climate summit

Greta Thunberg on Abu Dhabi oil chief’s COP28 climate summit: ‘Totally ridiculous’

Climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks on the main stage in George Square as part of the Fridays for Future Scotland march during the Cop26 summit in Glasgow. Picture date: Friday November 5, 2021.

Jane Barlow | PA Pictures | Getty Images

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg on Thursday became the latest vocal critic of the UAE’s decision to appoint the head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) as president of this year’s COP28 climate summit.

When asked for her opinion on the appointment during a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, she said: “Lobbyists have been influencing these conferences for ages and that just puts a very clear face on it… it’s completely ridiculous.”

The presidency has drawn a barrage of criticism from climate activists and civil society organizations since it was announced in mid-January. The UAE, one of the world’s top oil producers, will host the UN-led climate summit from 30 November to 12 December 2023.

IEA boss Fatih Birol, Greta Thunberg and other youth activists discuss the climate crisis in Davos

Adnoc Chief Executive Sultan al-Jaber has spoken about the need for climate action, saying during a conference on January 14 that the UAE has “a clear sense of responsibility and a great sense of urgency” in this direction.

“We don’t have to wait for the global inventory to know what it will say. We’re way off course,” he said at the time. “The world is catching up on the important Paris goal of reducing global temperatures to 1.5 degrees. And the harsh reality is that global emissions need to fall by 43% by 2030 to reach that goal.”

Many critics are urging the oil boss to step down from the Adnoc leadership as it poses a clear conflict of interest with his COP28 position.

Climate activists Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate share their message with Davos delegates

At the start of Thursday’s Davos panel, Thunberg said it was an “absurd” situation that the world appeared to be listening more to the Davos delegates than to those on the front lines of the climate crisis.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that fossil fuel emissions must be halved within the next decade if global warming is to be contained to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. According to the panel, around 90% of global CO2 emissions come from fossil fuels and heavy industry.

In October, a research team led by Oregon State University reported that several of the planet’s vital signs had reached “code red” and that “humanity is clearly facing a climate emergency.” Their report found that in 2022, levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached levels not seen in millions of years.

— CNBC’s Sam Meredith contributed to this report.