Sultan Al Jaber is CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, co-founder of renewable-energy company Masdar, and president of the 2023 COP28 climate conference in Dubai. TIME’s Justin Worland profiled Al Jaber for the Dec. 4 issue of the magazine. Below is an excerpt:
Sultan Al Jaber runs the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and serves as the chairman of Masdar, the state-owned company he co-founded that now operates renewable-energy projects in over 40 countries. He was appointed to run ADNOC in 2016, he says, months after the world had inked the Paris Agreement, in part to “future-proof” the business amid the global transition away from fossil fuels. “They wanted a smart, progressive disruption,” he says.
Progressive is a relative term. Al Jaber hasn’t committed ADNOC to cutting its oil production, nor has he charted a path for it to become a renewables company. Instead, the company is investing more than $150 billion on growth projects, including expanding its crude-oil production capacity to 5 million barrels per day by 2030. A fraction of that money, $15 billion, is dedicated to reducing the emissions that oil extraction will generate. That said, it has led to some improvement: Offshore oil rigs now run on electricity, and digital tools allow the company to map areas where energy is wasted. And the company has begun building big-budget carbon-capture projects.
As COP28 chief, he has called on other oil companies to come to Dubai with similar commitments to crack down on leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and to decarbonize their own operations. “If it wasn’t for what I’ve been able to do, and demonstrate to everybody in this industry, I wouldn’t be in a position to convince them,” he says. The conversations haven’t been easy, with some state-owned oil companies in particular resisting aggressive proposals.
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