With less than two weeks before the next round of UN climate negotiations in Doha, guess who the president of those crucial climate talks was having a party with? Yes, that's right, Big Oil chiefs at the Oil & Money 2012 conference in London – a gathering of over 450 senior executives from the fossil fuel industry.
Qatari deputy prime minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, president of the UN Climate Change Summit, spoke yesterday at the oil industry event, extolling the virtues of hydrofracking and other new extraction technologies. His comments came just a day after the International Energy Agency released a report saying that no more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050 if we're to avoid planetary disaster.
Attiyah also took the time from his busy schedule to congratulate the climate wreckers days before he's supposed to rein them in, presenting the petroleum executive of the year award – an honour he received himself in 2007.
Climate friend or foe?
Qatar's deputy PM is making his priorities quite clear. Over the years he has held several distinguished positions in the fossil fuel industry, including serving as the president of Opec, a highly influential intergovernmental organisation of 12 oil-producing countries. And now he'll be in charge of the most important climate conference of the year.
As the official conference president, Attiyah should be working tirelessly behind the scenes to shore up a successful outcome of the negotiations, not presenting awards to the top brass of the oil industry. One of the key jobs of a conference president is to act as a neutral broker, someone who can help countries work together towards a climate saving deal.
Attiyah's industry experience makes him uniquely positioned to find common ground at the upcoming talks, but his decision to speak at this week's Oil & Money conference puts his reputation – and the climate talks – at risk. He needs to change course before it's too late.
Learn more: Stay informed with the Guardian's Doha section for the latest updates on what's happening in the lead up to this year's climate talks. And here's a video of Attiyah lauding shale gas production at yesterday's conference:
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Sources: IHT conferences, Responding to Climate Change, WWF, Peninsula Qatar, Energy Intel, National, Opec, Guardian, YouTube