Former Vice President Al Gore on Sunday criticized the United Arab Emirates over its decision to make Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, CEO of the UAE’s national oil and gas company, the host of the COP28 climate summit.
“They are 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,” Gore told Reuters in an interview at the conference in Dubai.
The climate summit has faced scrutiny for being held in a nation that produces vast amounts of fossil fuels, which play a significant role in worsening the climate crisis. Gore questioned how much al-Jaber can be trusted to achieve progress in global climate deals.
Gore, a longtime climate activist, also took aim at oil and gas companies for being present at the conference, including Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods making his first appearance at the summit.
“He should not be taken seriously. He’s protecting his profits and placing them in a higher priority than the survival of the human civilization,” Gore told Reuters of Woods.
Environmental activists blasted the decision to appoint al-Jaber as head of the conference at the time, saying such a move was hypocritical.
He also faced a recent wave of criticism after the Centre for Climate Reporting and the BBC published documents last week that appear to show the UAE plans to use the summit to pitch foreign countries on oil and gas deals.
Gore ran unsuccessfully for the White House as the Democratic nominee in 2000. He later founded the Climate Reality Project in 2005, which is a nonprofit organization that is working to end the climate crisis.
In his interview with Reuters, he reiterated the need to end the use of fossil fuels without carbon capture technology, which is a concept where captured carbon dioxide is transported and stored deep underground.
“The current state of the technology for carbon capture and direct air capture is a research project,” Gore said. “There’s been no cost reduction for 50 years and there is a pretense on the part of the fossil fuel companies that it is a readily available, economically viable technology.”