COP28: Sultan Al Jaber faces backlash over fossil fuel comments

COP28: Sultan Al Jaber faces backlash over fossil fuel comments
COP 28 chief Sultan Al Jaber has been criticised for insisting that the use of fossil fuels continue despite the climate emergency.
2 min read
05 December, 2023
Al Jaber's comments challenged the stance of over 100 countries which expressed support for a full phase-out of fossil fuels [Getty]

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.

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.

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.