COP28 president claims ‘no science’ for need to phase out fossil fuels
Sultan Al Jaber, the president of the COP28 climate summit, which is currently taking place in Dubai, argued that there is “no science” that supports the notion fossil fuels need to be phased out in order to hit the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Al Jaber argued sustainable development and investments would be hampered if coal, oil, gas and other fossil fuels were phased out entirely. Such moves would “take the world back into caves”, the UAE official said.
Al Jaber's remarks came during a question and answer session with Mary Robinson, the former Irish prime minister and chair of the Elders group. She is also a former UN special envoy for climate change.
As well as being the president of the COP28 climate summit, Al Jaber is also the chief executive of the United Arab Emirates’ state oil company, ADNOC.
Robinson said during the conversation that “we’re in an absolute crisis that is hurting women and children more than anyone … and it’s because we have not yet committed to phasing out fossil fuel. That is the one decision that COP28 can take and in many ways, because you’re head of ADNOC, you could actually take it with more credibility.”
Al Jaber responded by saying that he “accepted to come to this meeting to have a sober and mature conversation. I’m not in any way signing up to any discussion that is alarmist. There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says that the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5C.”
Robinson hit back: “I read that your company is investing in a lot more fossil fuel in the future.”
Al Jaber replied: “You’re reading your own media, which is biased and wrong. I am telling you I am the man in charge. Please help me show me the roadmap for a phase-out of fossil fuel that will allow for sustainable socio-economic development, unless you want to take the world back into caves.”
He argued that “I don’t think we will be able to help solve the climate problem by pointing fingers or contributing to the polarisation and the divide that is already happening in the world. Show me the solutions. Stop the pointing of fingers. Stop it."
The COP28 president's words directly contradict the speech by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who told the climate summit on Friday that “the science is clear. The 1.5C limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels. Not reduce, not abate. Phase out, with a clear timeframe.”
UAE oil production
Al Jaber's comments come amid reports over the weekend that COP28 host UAE is planning to increase its oil production.
ADNOC is said to have been given permission to increase its drilling activities by 42% in the next seven years. Between now and 2050, only Saudi Arabia is expected to produce more oil
ADNOC responded by saying it "had already clearly stated plans to boost production capacity by 7% over the next four years."
Moreover, the firm said it was "widely accepted that some oil and gas would be needed in the decades ahead" and that it is "making its activities more climate-friendly, including by expanding into renewable energy."