COP28: YouthNet Demands Break Free from Fossil Fuel Control at COP, Expel Oil CEO

Dhaka, Bangladesh: YouthNet for Climate Justice, a grassroots youth-led environmental platform, is making a resolute call for the removal of fossil fuel lobbyists from the Conference of the Parties (COP) and the appointment of a new leader dedicated to climate justice.

As a global coalition of activists unites to champion the well-being of the planet and marginalized communities over the narrow interests of the fossil fuel industry, YouthNet is urging world leaders to take immediate action to ensure the integrity and fairness of COP, paving the way for a sustainable future.

YouthNet emphasizes the fundamental importance of transparency, accountability, and sustainable solutions in global climate negotiations. They argue that eliminating the influence of fossil fuel lobbyists and appointing a leader committed to climate justice is indispensable for forging a sustainable future.

Sohanur Rahman, the Executive Coordinator of YouthNet, asserts, “The time has come to reclaim the integrity of climate talks. We cannot allow major polluters to dictate the agenda and impede progress. Decisions made at COP must be guided by the best interests of our planet and the well-being of future generations, rather than the profit motives of a select few.”

The demand to remove Sultan al-Jaber, an Oil CEO, as the designated head of the upcoming COP28 climate talks echoes the concerns expressed by over 130 members of the U.S. Congress and European Parliament as countries prepare for the next round of climate talks in Bonn, Germany in June.

Al-Jaber, who runs the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), has come under scrutiny due to ADNOC’s position as the world’s 11th biggest oil and gas producer, delivering over a billion barrels of oil equivalent (BBOE) in 2021.

This raises concerns about potential conflicts of interest and the impact on the negotiations’ integrity. YouthNet for Climate Justice emphasizes the urgent need to eradicate the influence of major polluters from COP.

Sohanur highlights, “Transparency and fairness are paramount. We must create a space where all voices, especially those most affected by climate change, are heard and respected.”

Underlining the pressing nature of the issue, Sohanur declares, “As world leaders prepare to gather in Bonn, Germany, next June for COP28, the stakes have never been higher.

We cannot afford to allow the fossil fuel industry to continue obstructing progress. It is time for concrete action and meaningful commitments.”

The significant disparity in representation between fossil fuel interests and vulnerable regions at previous UN Climate conferences raises considerable concern.

During COP27, an astounding 636 fossil fuel lobbyists were present, overshadowing the representation of vulnerable regions. In contrast, the combined number of representatives from all 14 delegations of the Pacific Small Island Developing States amounted to a mere 502 individuals, revealing a stark imbalance.

Similar concerns arose during COP26, with 503 individuals tied to fossil fuel interests accredited for the climate summit in Glasgow. These figures underscore the urgent need to break the stranglehold of the fossil fuel industry on global climate discussions and decision-making processes.

YouthNet further emphasizes that major polluters should not be allowed to write the rules, sponsor UN events, or hold the position of COP President. This demand aligns with the principle that those whose business strategies are at odds with the central goals of the 2015 Paris climate accord should not be in positions of influence within the COP.

“The urgency to address the influence of fossil fuel interests in global climate talks cannot be overstated, particularly as the world grapples with the escalating impacts of climate change,” concludes Sohanur.

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