COP28 president Al Jaber calls for end of ‘fossil fuel emissions’

COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber said climate diplomacy should focus on phasing out emissions from oil and gas, leaving the door open for the continued use of fossil fuels while ramping up technologies to capture the carbon produced from burning them.

“In a pragmatic, just and well-managed energy transition, we must be laser focused on phasing out fossil fuel emissions, while phasing up viable, affordable zero-carbon alternatives,” Al Jaber, who also heads Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., said at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin on Tuesday.

The meeting of 40 countries is one of several ahead of the United Nations’ COP climate summit hosted by the United Arab Emirates at the end of the year. The European Union and others have lobbied for countries to agree at the annual talks that they should phase out the use of oil and gas — language that failed to make it to the final communiqué from last year’s COP27 meeting. The UAE’s environment minister, Mariam Almheiri, earlier this year tested a pitch to “phase out oil and gas in a just way.”

Al Jaber said the UAE “will encourage smart government regulation to jump start the hydrogen value chain and make carbon capture commercially viable.” While the technologies are needed to mitigate emissions from hard-to-abate sectors, their deployment globally is currently far from the scale needed to cut emissions quickly.

Al Jaber also called on rich nations to finally deliver on their promise made more than a decade ago to raise $100 billion to help developing countries cut emissions and adapt to climate change. Germany’s Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, said that developed nations are on their way to reaching the goal this year.

“But it is absolutely clear that this is not enough,” Baerbock said. “We need to mobilize several trillion.” That would require mobilizing large amounts of private capital, additional funds from the International Monetary Fund, as well as a restructuring of developing countries’ debts, she said.

Europe’s largest economy is still behind on its own pledge to give €6 billion annually by 2025. Germany and the U.S. — whose climate envoy John Kerry is at the talks that will run until Wednesday — also want to make climate financing a fixed part of the World Bank’s business model to allow for more green investments, Baerbock added.

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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