The UAE’s Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber reportedly says gradual cuts in oil, gas and coal use would ‘take the world back into caves’
The president of the COP28 climate conference, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, has cast great doubt over zero-emissions policies being pushed by the United Nations, claiming there is “no science” to show that stage-by-stage cuts in fossil fuel use would decrease global heating, the Guardian reported on Sunday.
The chair of the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, now underway in Dubai, claimed that a gradual reduction in fossil fuel consumption would hold back sustainable development and drag humanity back to the Paleolithic period.
His comments, made in response to questions from former UN special envoy for climate change Mary Robinson during a live online event in late November, are fundamentally at odds with the position of the UN and its secretary general Antonio Guterres.
“We’re in an absolute crisis that is hurting women and children more than anyone… and it’s because we have not yet committed to phasing out fossil fuel,” Robinson, who chairs The Elders, a London-based human rights and environmental NGO, was quoted by the Guardian as saying.
“That is the one decision that Cop28 can take and in many ways, because you’re head of Adnoc, you could actually take it with more credibility,” she added.
Al Jaber serves as chief executive of the United Arab Emirates state oil company Adnoc, while also chairing Cop28 in Dubai. Many critics have described the two roles as a serious conflict of interest.
Responding to Robinson’s remarks, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber said he expected the conversation to be “sober and mature,” but not “alarmist.”
“There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says that the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5°C,” he said, adding that the move would not “allow for sustainable socioeconomic development, unless you want to take the world back into caves.”
When Robinson argued that Adnoc is investing heavily in future fossil fuel production, Al Jaber responded by saying that she and her supporters were reading their own media, which is biased and wrong.
He also predicted that a phase-out of fossil fuels is “essentially inevitable,” but argued that countries need to be “real serious and pragmatic about it.”
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