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COP28 climate conference president Sultan al-Jaber draws more fire over comments on fossil fuels

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Fossil fuel debate takes center stage at COP28


Fossil fuel debate takes center stage at COP28

02:11

Dr. Sultan al-Jaber is the president of COP28, this year’s United Nations climate conference currently being held in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. Al-Jaber is also the CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). 

The potential conflict of interest in al-Jaber’s roles has been put back under the microscope following the revelation of remarks he reportedly made on the role of fossil fuels as nations seek to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius — a primary goal under the Paris Agreement adopted at the COP climate conference in 2015.

“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,” al-Jaber said in an online event on Nov. 21, according to The Guardian, adding a pointed barb to the hosts that it would be impossible to stop burning fossil fuels and sustain economic development, “unless you want to take the world back into caves.”

Climate scientists and environmental advocates including former Vice President Al Gore were quick to condemn al-Jaber’s remarks.

“He should not be taken seriously. He’s protecting his profits and placing them in a higher priority than the survival of the human civilization,” Gore told the Reuters news agency.

His remarks also seemingly put him at odds with the United Nations and its secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, who told COP28 delegates on Friday: “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.”  

Al-Jaber previously came under fire in November when the BBC obtained leaked documents showing he planned to use pre-conference meetings to discuss commercial oil and gas interests with representatives of other nations.

“Sultan Al Jaber claims his inside knowledge of the fossil fuel industry qualifies him to lead a crucial climate summit but it looks ever more like a fox is guarding the hen house,” Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s climate advisor, said.

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