COP28: Sultan Al Jaber faces backlash over fossil fuel comments
COP28's Emirati president Sultan al-Jaber is facing criticism for making comments dismissing the scientific basis for calls to phase out fossil fuels.
His remarks, made during a live online event on November 21, have drawn a strong response from scientists and environmental advocates. They have called his statements "incredibly concerning" and bordering on denying the reality of climate change.
Al-Jaber, who is also the United Arab Emirates' climate envoy, implied that eliminating fossil fuels would hinder sustainable development, “unless you want to take the world back into caves," according to The Guardian and the Centre for Climate Reporting.
#COP28 president says there is ‘no science’ behind demands for phase-out of fossil fuels. The comments were “incredibly concerning” and “verging on climate denial”, scientists said. Sounds like 100% climate denial to me. No wonder we’re up to COP No 28 🤦♂️ https://t.co/E5hN94wdbI— Prof. Matt England (@ProfMattEngland) December 4, 2023
During a discussion at an event organised by She Changes Climate, Al Jaber was confronted by former Irish President Mary Robinson about the urgent need to address the climate crisis, particularly its disproportionate effects on women and children.
Robinson stressed the importance of Al Jaber committing to the end of fossil fuel use, a step she believed would carry significant weight given his leadership of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc).
In response, Al Jaber called for a "balanced and mature" discussion, dismissing "alarmist" dialogues and questioning the scientific basis for a total fossil fuel phase-out to achieve the 1.5C target.
Al Jaber froze when he was confronted by the media about what he thought about fossil fuel phase-out.
“I just want to know your responses to that.”@alextomo asks the president of COP28 Sultan Al Jaber, who is also chair of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), what he thinks of the UN Secretary General’s statement that fossil fuels must be phased out. pic.twitter.com/fmr6qQWJBU— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) December 2, 2023
Many view fossil fuel phase-out as a critical measure to avert climate catastrophe and key to the success of the current edition of COP.
The debate at COP 28 is currently centred around whether the final agreement will advocate for an outright 'phase-out' or opt for softer language like 'phase-down.'
Experts emphasize the importance of deep and rapid reductions in fossil fuel emissions to mitigate the increasingly severe impacts of climate change.