H. E. Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, and Managing Director and Group CEO of ADNOC Group, is the President – Designate of the forthcoming UN climate conference COP28. He has served as the UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change for two terms, and played a proactive participatory role at over ten COPs, including the historic Paris COP21 in 2015. He brings to this task two decades of executive business and leadership experience in government, climate policy, and renewable and conventional energy sectors
BY JYOTI VERMA
Dr. Al Jaber is an accomplished figure in the fields of energy, business, and government. He grew up in a family with a strong tradition of public service and entrepreneurship. From his graduation in Chemical Engineering from the University of Southern California, US, to his Ph.D. in Business and Economics from Coventry University in the United Kingdom, his academic background reflects a combination of technical and business knowledge, which is valuable in various sectors, including energy and industry. He has held key positions in the
energy and industry sectors in the UAE. He has been involved in various leadership roles within the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and its subsidiaries that helped him play a significant role in advancing the country’s energy and industrial strategies. His career has included positions in the UAE government, including the role of UAE Minister of State and as a member of the UAE Cabinet, which involved policy-making, strategy development, and representing the UAE on the international stage. In 2023, his selection as COP28 President-Designate has not only put him in the centre of the most crucial discussion of modern times, but also has given him the arduous task of striking the balance between the development fossil fuels promise and their greenhouse emissions that actually is the problem.
ONE WITH A BUSINESS MINDSET
A businessman extraordinaire, Dr. Al Jaber is of the opinion that the world needs a “business mindset” to tackle the climate crisis. In one of the statements as the President-Designate of the COP28 summit, he said, “the forthcoming UN talks is a great platform to set out how the private sector can limit greenhouse gas emissions and give businesses and governments a clear set of tasks and targets. He calls for a major course correction and a massive effort to reignite progress, which governments cannot accomplish alone. The scale of the problem requires everyone working in solidarity,” he said.
Dr. Al Jaber’s previous roles have taught him the importance of concrete key performance indicators as the cornerstone of most commercial strategies and an ambitious action – oriented agenda to achieve success. His roles as the UAE Minister for Industry and Advanced Technology, Chief Executive of the UAE’s national oil company and one of the world’s biggest oil and gas producers, ADNOC, and the Founding Chief Executive of Masdar, has taught him the importance of the oil industry as an energy supplier to most countries.
What’s challenging though is the fact that his global role as COP28 President-Designate comes at a time when ADNOC is planning a massive expansion of oil and gas. His job is difficult as the climate conferences have traditionally been dominated by policymakers, ministers and politicians, and civil society activists, most of whom believe that his appointment is “a truly breathtaking conflict of interest.” On the other hand, a few experts prefer to see the big picture. There is a broad consensus that while the last few COPs have made incremental progress, they have failed to produce the kind of breakthrough needed to address the challenges. The urgency of the climate crisis needs a different approach and the UAE, under the experienced leadership of Dr. Al Jaber, just might be the country that helps bridge the gap between the Global North and Global South to produce this breakthrough.
“DR. AL JABER IS OF THE OPINION THAT THE WORLD NEEDS A “BUSINESS MINDSET” TO TACKLE THE CLIMATE CRISIS. HE BELIEVES THAT THE FORTHCOMING UN CLIMATE TALKS IN DUBAI IS A GREAT PLATFORM TO SET OUT HOW THE PRIVATE SECTOR CAN LIMIT GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS”
A CLIMATE EXPERT
Dr. Al Jaber was the UAE’s Special Envoy for Climate Change from 2010 to 2016, and has been from 2020 onwards. Over eight years in this role and representing the country at previous climate conferences has given him a thorough insight into the complex challenges of sustainable development. As CEO of Masdar, he played a vital role in executing the vision of the country’s leadership to encourage the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to set up its headquarters in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi. IRENA now has 167 countries plus the EU as its members, and plays a lead role in guiding and supporting green energy transitions.
Dr. Al Jaber has been a vocal advocate for sustainability and environmental conservation. He has been involved in initiatives aimed at promoting renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions. His leadership has contributed to the UAE’s efforts to diversify its energy mix and reduce its carbon footprint.
Masdar or the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company was set up in 2006 with the goal of becoming a global leader in renewable energy and sustainable urban development. Under Dr. Al Jaber’s stewardship, the company has become one of the largest global players in the renewable energy space globally. It has invested in solar and wind energy projects in 40 countries, and aims at accomplishing the target of 100 GW by 2030. It is also investing in modern technology to build solar-powered water desalination and waste to energy plants. The leader’s two decades of dedication to renewable energy serve as evidence that he and the UAE offer the most promising opportunity to achieve a global consensus for addressing climate change.