“No science” backs up the demands to end fossil fuel use, the UAE’s president of the Cop28 conference has said.
Dr Sultan Al-Jaber left his counterparts at the international summit dumbfounded with his comments.
He indicated that it was not necessary to completely eradicate fossil fuel use in order to achieve the Paris Agreement target of limiting warming to 1.5C by 2050.
“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,” he said.
He added that a “phase-down and a phase-out of fossil fuels is inevitable, it is essential, but we need to be real, serious and pragmatic about it.”
Al-Jaber also heads up the UAE’s state-owned oil company Adnoc.
Climate scientists and activists were quick to criticise the remarks with Dr Friederike Otto of Imperial College London saying the science had been “clear for decades”.
“We need to stop burning fossil fuels,” he said.
The comments from the man who heads up UAE’s state-owned oil company have caused a stir
“A failure to phase out fossil fuels at Cop28 will put several millions more vulnerable people in the firing line of climate change. This would be a terrible legacy for Cop28.”
Prof Sir David King, chair of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, added: “It is undeniable that to limit global warming to 1.5C we must all rapidly reduce carbon emissions and phase-out the use of fossil fuels by 2035 at the latest.
“The alternative is an unmanageable future for humanity.”
A spokesman for Cop28 said “The IEA and IPCC 1.5C scenarios clearly state that fossil fuels will have to play a role in the future energy system, albeit a smaller one.
“The COP President was quoting the science, and leading climate experts.
“He has clearly said that the oil and gas industry must: tackle scope 1 and 2 emissions, must invest in clean energy and clean technologies to address scope 3, and that all industry must align around keeping the North Star of 1.5 within reach.
“Once again, this is clearly part of a continued effort to undermine the COP Presidency’s tangible achievements and a misrepresentation of our position and successes to date. We operationalised Loss and Damage and capitalised the Fund with over $700million.
“We launched the world’s largest private market climate vehicle with $30 billion. We brought 51 national and international oil companies to agreement ambitious decarbonisation targets, and 119 countries have signed our renewable energy and efficiency pledge.
“We secured the largest ever replenishment of the Green Climate Fund with $12.5billion. This is just the beginning.”
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