The president of the COP28 climate summit, Sultan Al Jaber, recently claimed there is “no science” that says phasing out fossil fuels is necessary to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, in comments that have alarmed climate scientists and advocates.
The future role of fossil fuels is one of the most controversial issues countries are grappling with at the COP28 climate summit. While some are pushing for a “phase-out,” others are calling for the weaker language of a “phase-down.” Scientific reports have shown that fossil fuels must be rapidly slashed to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees — the goal of the Paris climate agreement, and a threshold above which scientists warn it will be more difficult for humans and ecosystems to adapt.
Al Jaber made the remarks during the She Changes Climate panel event on November 21, which came to light on Sunday in a story published by the Guardian, and in video that CNN has reviewed. Al Jaber was asked by Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and current chair of the Elders Group, an independent group of global leaders, if he would lead on phasing out fossil fuels.
In his response, Al Jaber told Robinson, “there is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5.” He said he had expected to come to the She Changes Climate meeting to have a “sober and mature conversation” and was not “signing up to any discussion that is alarmist.”
He continued that the 1.5-degree goal was his “north star,” and a phase-down and phase-out of fossil fuel was “inevitable” but “we need to be real, serious and pragmatic about it.”
In an increasingly fractious series of responses to Robinson pushing him on the point, Al Jaber asked her “please, help me, show me a roadmap for a phase-out of fossil fuels that will allow for sustainable socio-economic development, unless you want to take the world back into caves.”
Al Jaber’s presidency of the COP28 summit has been controversial. The Emirati businessman is the UAE’s climate envoy and chairs the board of directors of its renewables company, but he also heads the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC).
“If the IPCC and IEA do not count as science then I don’t know what does,” said Ploy Achakulwisut, climate researcher at the Stockholm Environment Institute and one of the authors on the report. She told CNN it concluded “that all fossil fuels have to be phased out especially if carbon dioxide removal and carbon capture and storage measures fail to scale.”
Al Gore slams COP28 climate summit host UAE, says its emissions soared – (Reuters) – Climate advocate and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore on Sunday slammed the UAE – host of the COP28 climate summit – saying its position as overseer of international negotiations on global warming this year was an abuse of public trust. The comments, made to Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the conference in Dubai, reflected skepticism among some delegates that COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber, head of the UAE’s national oil company ADNOC, can be an honest broker of a climate deal. “They are abusing the public’s trust by naming the CEO of one of the largest and least responsible oil companies in the world as head of the COP,” Gore said.
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