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Head Of UAE Oil Giant Says Fossil Fuel Phasedown Inevitable

The head of the United Arab Emirates state-run oil giant, ADNOC—and incoming COP28 President—said that a fossil fuel phasedown is inevitable.

 "The phasedown of fossil fuels is inevitable. The speed at which this happens depends on how quickly we can phase up zero carbon alternatives, while ensuring energy security, accessibility and affordability," Al-Jaber said on the sidelines of the UN Climate talks on Thursday.

The COP28 climate summit will be held in Abu Dhabi this year, and Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, ADNOC head and COP28 President, argued early on that the summit should include oil and gas exports because a decoupling from fossil fuels couldn't possibly be immediate.

"We can't simply unplug from the energy system of today and we can't do this with a flip of a switch. We need to include the energy experts in the consultations and in the discussions and we need to make economic systems work more efficiently with much less carbon," al-Jaber said in January.

But ADNOC still has a goal to meet the UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative, along with a goal of increasing its crude oil output to 5 million bpd by 2030. The UAE was also just given the green light by OPEC+ to increase its production quotas.

Members of U.S. Congress and European Parliament caused a stir in May by pressuring U.S. President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von Der Leyen to give al-Jaber the boot from his COP28 role—a role that has traditionally not been held by a fossil fuel professional.

Concerns were voiced that the UAE would take COP28 seriously enough, that there could be a conflict of interest, and a fossil fuel professional could undermine the progress that has been made so far at the annual summit.

A COP28 spokesperson said back in January that al Jaber was "an energy expert and founder of one of the world's leading renewable enregy companies, a senior business leader, government minister and climate diplomat with more than 20 years of experience of taking climate action."

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By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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