The Emirati president of the UN climate conference in Dubai denied Wednesday reports that he sought to use his leadership of COP28 to pursue fossil fuel deals for his country.
"These allegations are false, not true, incorrect and not accurate," Sultan Al Jaber, who is also CEO of United Arab Emirates' oil giant ADNOC, told reporters on the eve of the climate summit.
"It's an attempt to undermine the work of the COP28 presidency. Let me ask you a question: do you think the UAE or myself will need the COP or the COP presidency to go and establish business deals or commercial relationships?"
Leaked documents obtained by the BBC and the Centre for Climate Reporting alleged that talking points prepared for Jaber for COP28 meetings with foreign governments pushed joint business opportunities in fossil fuels.
The briefing notes, detailed in reports published on Monday, signalled ADNOC's willingness to work with countries including China, Germany and Egypt to develop oil and gas projects.
"I promise you, never ever did I see these talking points that they refer (to), or that I ever even used such talking points in my discussions," said Jaber, who also chairs a clean energy company.
He said every meeting he conducted with governments or stakeholders as president of the climate talks "has always been centred around one thing and one thing only: and that is my COP28 agenda."
But the allegations furthered long-running suspicions about an oil man at the helm of the world's climate negotiations who had already been accused of conflicts of interest.
Former US vice president Al Gore said the allegations fulfilled some of these "worst fears" while former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said Jaber had been caught "red handed".
Supporters say Jaber's unique profile presents an opportunity to broker a compromise between opposing sides during the two-week talks.