On Monday, Sultan Al Jaber, the Emirati oil executive hosting the global climate meeting, defended his position on stopping fossil fuel use in an angry public statement, escalating tensions.
The Climate Summit Leader tries to calm the reaction to his comment on fossil fuels. Adnoc CEO Al Jaber was criticized for a video in which he said there is “no science” behind the idea that fossil fuels must be phased out to keep global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
Beyond that, scientists predict people will struggle to adapt to global warming-caused storms, drought, heat, and rising sea levels.
Read more: Opec+ Fails To Raise The Price Of Oil.
UN climate experts said nations must cut fossil fuel emissions by 43% by the end of the decade compared to 2019 to prevent warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Diplomats and scientists want states to pledge to phase out coal, oil, and gas at the Dubai climate talks.
“The 1.5-degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels,” U.N. secretary-general António Guterres said Friday. “Do not reduce. Not stop. Phaseout. Clear period aligned 1.5 degrees.”
In his statements two weeks ago, Mr. Al Jaber, who is expected to lead over 200 nations toward an ambitious global warming strategy, phrased things differently.
“There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says the phaseout of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5,” Mr. Al Jaber said during a She Changes Climate panel with former Irish president and climate advocate Mary Robinson.
Robinson requested Mr. Al Jaber to head a global effort to reduce and end fossil fuel use. He complained that she had asked an “alarmist” inquiry instead of a “sober and mature conversation.”
After The Guardian disclosed Mr. Al Jaber’s statements on Sunday, the panel conversation from two weeks earlier became public.
“Please, help me, show me a road map for a phaseout of fossil fuels that will allow for sustainable socioeconomic development unless you want to take the world back into caves,” he implored the panel.
He caused a COP28 firestorm with his comments.
Mr. Al Jaber was criticized by former Vice President Al Gore, who advocated for wind, solar, and other renewable energy.
“From the moment this absurd masquerade began, it was only a matter of time before his preposterous disguise no longer concealed the reality of the most brazen conflict of interest in the history of climate negotiations,” Mr. Gore wrote in an email. “The world must phase out fossil fuels quickly.”
He added Mr Al Jaber ‘has been arranging one of the most aggressive expansions of fossil fuel output, timed to commence as soon as he bangs the final gavel to finish COP28’.
A stubborn Mr. Al Jaber denied saying what is on the video on Monday. He stated that anyone who disagreed was undermining his COP28 leadership.
A packed and hastily planned news conference showed Mr. Al Jaber taking the criticism personally and describing his credentials as an economist and engineer. “I respect the science in everything I do,” he stated.
“I have said repeatedly that the phase-down and phaseout of fossil fuels is inevitable,” Mr. Al Jaber added.
He said he has called for a fossil fuel phaseout numerous times and that the media has ignored his climate change advocacy.
Mr. Al Jaber complained, “one statement, taken out of context with misrepresentation and misinterpretation that gets maximum coverage.”
Since the Industrial Revolution, coal, oil, and gas have warmed the world by 1.2 degrees.
While sitting next to Mr. Al Jaber on Monday, U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change head Jim Skea said fossil fuels must be “greatly reduced” by 2050 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. He added coal facilities without carbon capture and storage must be phased out.
In response to phaseout proposals, the fossil fuel sector said the technology could capture and store carbon emissions to keep it going. However, scientists agree that oil sector solutions like carbon capture and storage cannot be adopted at the size or pace needed to mitigate climate change.