Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, whose appointment as president of the UN’s COP28 climate summit has caused controversy, defended his commitment “to keep 1.5 within reach.”
“We fully understand the urgency behind the matter, we very much believe and respect the science,” he said while speaking to reporters on Monday, during the fourth day of the summit in Dubai.
Al Jaber was apparently responding to a recent report in the British newspaper Guardian, which reported comments he made in a public forum last month when he said there is ‘no science’ showing a phase out of fossil fuels is required to limit global warming to 1.5C degrees.
“Forty-three percent of global emissions must be reduced by 2030, that is 22 gigatons,” he said on Monday. “The science says, we must get to net-zero emissions by 2050.”
“We need to make that happen to keep 1.5 within reach.”
Al Jaber went on to say, “My job, in this mission, is to ensure…we stay laser-focused on our north star, and that is keeping 1.5 within reach.”
“I have said, over and over,” he continued, “that the phase-down and the phase-out of fossil fuel is inevitable, in fact it is essential.
“And it needs to be orderly, fair, just, and responsible.”
The CEO of ADNOC, the world’s 12th largest oil company by production, largely defended himself by pointing to remarkable progress at the COP28 summit so far.
“There is a real sense of momentum, positivity and excitement,” he said of the first four days of the climate talks.
“A special thing is happening in Dubai.”
Al Jaber said that positive progress was signaled on day one when the agenda for the 2-week event was approved quickly. This was followed by some significant announcements.
These include what Al Jaber called ‘a breakthrough agreement’ on the first day, to not only operationalize but also to fill a global ‘loss and damage’ fund. He said this only occurred thanks to negotiations after a pre-COP conference in Abu Dhabi last month.
“We have…mobilized over $57 billion in just four days,” he said, including $725 million pledged so far for the new loss and damage fund.
Al Jaber listed several financial commitments, including his country’s (the UAE) pledge of $30 billion to a new private investment vehicle that will seek to raise $250 billion over six years for climate-related investment in developing countries.
Another item in his list was $1.2 billion for methane emission reduction. Al Jaber said he is putting methane reduction at the top of his agenda, as he hailed a recent US and China commitment to reducing methane and other non-CO2 gasses.
Much of the momentum that Al Jaber sees in the summit so far came on Saturday when he announced that 50 oil companies joined a decarbonization pledge called the Oil and Gas Decarbonisation Charter.
A centerpiece of this is their pledge to reach near-zero methane emissions, and to end routine flaring, by 2030. Among them are state-owned Saudi Aramco, ADNOC, Brazil’s Petrobras, Angola’s Sonangol, and oil majors including BP, Shell, and TotalEnergies.
The announcement received mixed reviews from environmentalists, some of whom criticized the methane pledge as addressing a symptom rather than the cause of climate change, for which a full phase-out of fossil fuels is required. Others saw it as an important sign of progress.
In related news at the summit on Saturday, the administrator of the US EPA announced rules “sharply reducing methane and other harmful air pollutants from the oil and natural gas industry.” The agency said such rules will promote the use of cutting-edge methane detection technologies.
Such strict regulations may be required to enforce oil and gas companies’ methane commitments, analysists have said.
Tripling renewables – and nukes
The COP28 President’s office also announced on Saturday that 118 countries have pledged to triple the world’s installed renewable energy capacity by 2030, to bring global renewable energy generation capacity to at least 11,000 gigawatts.
This pledge was anticipated some weeks ago, when the COP28 Presidency, the International Renewable Energy Agency, and the Global Renewables Alliance issued a report, “Tripling Renewable Power and Doubling Energy Efficiency by 2030.”
Notably absent from joining the pledge were China and India, apparently concerned that such a pledge is linked to a ‘phase down’ of coal-fired power production.
Also on Saturday, more than 20 countries including the United States signed a Declaration to Triple Nuclear Energy, which would triple nuclear power capacity by 2050. The declaration calls on international financial institutions to encourage the inclusion of nuclear energy in energy lending policies.
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, who is at the Dubai summit, said in a statement that the world cannot achieve net-0 emissions without building new reactors.
By Alan Mammoser for Oilprice.com
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