The man running COP28 has denied claims the UAE wanted to use the conference to strike new oil and gas deals.
The opening of COP28 in Dubai tomorrow risked being overshadowed after leaked documents suggested the Emirates planned to use meetings with other countries to promote trade with it national oil and gas companies.
But as pressure mounted on Wednesday, COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber addressed the accusations.
As he answered the second of only two questions from journalists, Mr Al Jaber said: “These allegations are false, not true, incorrect, and not accurate. It’s an attempt to undermine the work of the COP28 president.”
He did not specify the inaccuracies or deny the existence of such documents. But he said he had never seen or used “these talking points that they refer to”.
Mr Al Jaber’s dual role as president of the climate talks and boss of the state oil company ADNOC has long been criticised as a potential conflict of interest, but calls for him to resign from his position at the firm while running COP have gone unheeded.
He suggested neither his country nor he needed “COP or the COP Presidency to go and establish business deals or commercial relationships”.
When it comes to engaging with fossil fuel companies on cleaning up the energy system, he said: “We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.”
Mr Al Jaber said his team had been “clear, open, clean, honest and transparent on how we’re going to conduct this COP process”.
The claims were first reported by the BBC and Centre for Climate Reporting on Monday.
On Wednesday – a hoax statement sent to the press purportedly from the COP28 team – claimed Mr Al Jaber had agreed to step down as ADNOC CEO.
A COP28 spokesperson said it “has no basis in truth, and must be entirely disregarded as fake news.
“As the COP president said in today’s press conference: ‘It is an attempt to undermine the work of the COP28 presidency’.”