The president of the COP28, Sultan Al Jaber, harshly condemned the idea that fossil fuels would need to be “phased out” to achieve the 1.5 degrees Celsius global temperature goal that the summit officials have set their sights on.
The COP28 is an annual climate summit taking place this year in the United Arab Emirates, which happens to be the 6th largest exporter of crude petroleum globally. In addition to hosting the COP28 in Dubai, Sultan Al Jaber is the chief executive of the United Arab Emirates’ oil company, Adnoc, which recently promised a 7% increase in production by 2027.
Ahead of the summit, the United Nations (U.N.) Food & Agriculture Organization planned to release a “roadmap” to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which was expected to urge Western nations to reduce their meat production and consumption, among other large-scale initiatives. According to the Guardian, while Al Jaber was speaking with Mary Robinson, the former Irish President, he pressed her on producing a “roadmap” that would detail how to phase out fossil fuels without destroying the world economy.
“We’re in an absolute crisis,” Robinson said speaking on a panel directly to Al Jaber, “that is hurting women more than anyone. Women and children, the elderly, and those with disability, etcetera.” Robinson claimed that this is “because we have not yet committed to phasing out fossil fuels.” Robinson told Al Jaber that due to his position within both the COP28 and the national oil company, he should be urging a reduction in the production of fossil fuels. The former Irish President also said that she “didn’t hear the word ‘urgent’ enough in [his] voice.”
“‘Fast-track’ can be more of a managerial term — ‘urgency’ is crisis,” she said.
“I am not in any way signing up to any discussion that is alarmist,” Sultan Al Jaber said in response. “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 1.5°C.”
Robinson responded by claiming that “the science is very acute now, we don’t have any time.” She reiterated allegations that we have just “six or seven years” to phase out fossil fuels. Al Jaber told her that she has been “reading her own media” which he said is “bias and wrong.”
“You’re asking for a phase-out of fossil fuel — please, help me. Show me a roadmap for a phase-out of fossil fuel that will allow for sustainable socioeconomic development, unless you want to take the world back into the caves,” he firmly stated.
The Guardian, a British media outlet, called his response “ill-tempered” and later stated that “Deep and rapid cuts are needed to bring fossil fuel emissions to zero and limit fast-worsening climate impacts.”
Bill Hare, the chief executive of Climate Analytics, also criticized Al Jaber’s remarks as “verging on climate denial.”
This piece first appeared at TPUSA.