Ecowashing: Head of UAE state oil company placed in charge of group tasked with stopping climate change

Ecowashing: Head of UAE state oil company placed in charge of group tasked with stopping climate change

London - ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies expresses dismay that Sultan Al Jaber, head of the oil giant ADNOC, the state oil company of the United Arab Emirates, will lead the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change COP28 conference. His appointment brings into question the credibility of this major event.

The case for concerted global action to address what is described by some, especially the International Panel on Climate Change, as a ‘climate emergency’ will be undermined by the extraordinary decision to trust the Earth’s environment and economic future to someone with a vested interest in keeping countries reliant on fossil fuels extracted and supplied by his company.

Pressure will need to be put on authorities and businesses in the UAE to end the abuse of migrant workers. Then, and only then, can it be said that COP28 has been worthwhile. 

- Robert Oulds, Executive Director, of ImpACT

COP28 will be a major summit, making decisions of profound economic and environmental importance, and will be attended by Head of State and Government from across the globe. The presence of such distinguished visitors means that human rights should therefore be a major consideration at that event. However, any hijacking of this summit by interests that are not conducive to the lofty and laudable goals of the UN’s COP28 will give rise to allegations that it is being used to hide wrongdoing and improving reputations. Al Jaber’s appointment will mean COP28 may be less about helping the planet and its people and more about Ecowashing.

The choice of appointing such a prominent person as Sultan Al Jaber and the decision to hold this event in the United Arab Emirates, a state that has its own history of abusing guests to that country, is an act of Ecowashing. Ecowashing is a term used to describe the practice of individuals, groups, corporations, or governments using environmental issues to improve reputations tarnished by wrongdoing. A form of propaganda, ecowashing can be accomplished through hosting events, or sponsoring environmental courses, or participating in climate action campaigns.

COP28 will need to balance the interests of business, the environment, and must not ignore human rights issues. Allowing a rent seeking corporation such as the largest oil producer in the UAE, ADNOC and its Chief Executive, heralds a major change in environmental politics. Any corporate takeover of the climate change movement will inevitably divorce climate justice from social justice.

The facilities used to host the COP28 conference were constructed by migrant labourers who were in many cases subject to exploitation, maltreatment, and racial discrimination. The event will use the ‘city’ built to accommodate the controversial World Expo in Dubai which led to some workers being unlawfully imprisoned, deprived of wages, and ultimately deported with no pay.

Robert Oulds, Executive Director, of ImpACT, says, “If anything good is to come from the astounding decision to hand the climate chicken coop over to the fossil fuel fox, it may be that it will lead to real efforts to expose any harm ADNOC have done to the environment as well as the climate. Pressure will also need to be put on authorities and businesses in the UAE to end the abuse of migrant workers. Then, and only then, can it be said that COP28 has been worthwhile. Otherwise, it will appear that the UN and the UAE have been engaged in an act of Ecowashing a shameful record.

“At a time when many are openly questioning the cost of Britain’s net zero commitment to decarbonisation and the costs of transitioning away from carbon intensive technologies towards sustainable and renewable energy, the appointment of Al Jaber will be used by critics and sceptics to expose the hypocrisy of global elites. It will inevitably be said that they want others to bear the cost of change and will not be taking on the burden of transforming the energy base.”


– Notes to Editiors –

Wrongdoing in the UAE – reasons why Dubai should not be hosting COP28.

ImpACT International | Hundreds of African workers awaiting deportation detained and abused in UAE (

ImpACT International | ImpACT addresses the UAE’s negligence towards migrant workers in time for the Dubai Expo 2020 (

ImpACT International | Is Dubai a home for dirty money? Regulatory Reform in the United Arab Emirates (

ImpACT International | UAE's penalties for publishing illegal content, intimidation and attempt to silence voices (

ImpACT International | UAE: Vulnerable 'AJAD Facilities Management' employees denied their rights (

ImpACT International | Dubai based billionaires ravage British company (


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