The United Arab Emirates climate envoy and designated COP28 president said on Tuesday his country, which is due to host the summit later this year, was approaching the task with humility, responsbility and urgency.

“It is not a conflict of interest. It is in our common interest to have the energy industry working alongside everyone on the solutions the world needs,” Sultan al-Jaber, who is also head of the state oil giant ADNOC, said at the India Energy Week conference. “The UAE COP presidency is listening and ready to engage.”

Jaber’s appointment to lead the climate summit this year fuelled activists’ worries that big industry was hijacking the world’s response to the global warming crisis.

The UAE, a major OPEC oil exporter, will be the second Arab state to host the climate conference after Egypt in 2022.

The UAE and other Gulf energy producers have called for a realistic energy transition in which hydrocarbons would keep a role in energy security while making commitments to decarbonisation.

“We cannot unplug the current energy system before we have built the new one,” said Jaber, who was the founding CEO of Abu Dhabi renewable energy firm Masdar before becoming ADNOC chief.

“We must minimise their carbon footprint, only invest in the least carbon intensive barrels and continue to reduce their intensity,” he added.

Jaber also said developing nations had seen little justice so far when it comes to energy transition and pointed to capital needed to fully operationalize the loss and damage fund approved in COP27.

The deal to create the fund was hailed as a breakthrough for developing country negotiators at the Egypt summit last year but climate activists have since complained that the fund remains empty of cash.

The November 20-December 12 COP28 will be the first global stocktake since the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015.

On Tuesday, Jaber said that eliminating energy poverty was essnetial alongside keeping the goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius alive. (Reuters)