Creating new perspectives since 2009

As fossil fuel rift delays COP28, Arab energy leaders say oil here to stay

December 12, 2023 at 4:33 pm

COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber (L) attends during the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at Expo City Dubai in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on December 11, 2023 [Waleed Zein – Anadolu Agency]

Oil and gas will be “pillars of global energy for many decades to come”, the closing statement of a meeting of Arab energy ministers said on Tuesday, as the issue of ending the use of fossil fuels sent COP28 into overtime in pursuit of a deal, Reuters reports.

Delegates at the UN climate talks in the United Arab Emirates, a member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), are divided as some demand a call for a “phase-out” of oil, gas and coal as the biggest cause of global warming.

Arab and other hydrocarbon producers consider attempts at reducing fossil fuels as a blow to their economies.

I am surprised by this ferocious attack of what is called ‘phasing out’ of oil or reducing dependence on oil as a source of energy with such ferocity that perhaps is matched by the greed of the West, in general, in seizing control of the economy

Kuwait’s Oil Minister, Saad Al Barrak, said at the Arab Energy Conference on Tuesday.

He accused the West that he said,

as a colonial power had “plundered” the wealth of Asia and Africa, of double standards in its attempt to take the lead “in ensuring the safety of the human environment through climate agreements”

The closing statement of the Arab Energy Conference in Doha recommended measures to develop fossil fuels, including developing national energy companies and creating mechanisms “to maintain production levels and work to provide additional production capacities”.

On the subject of the climate, it said Arab countries should adopt “balanced development policies, including integrating the environmental dimension into development plans”, adding investments should also be made in renewable energy, hydrogen and nuclear power.

Sources familiar with the discussions said the UAE’s COP28 President, Sultan Al-Jaber, had faced pressure from Saudi Arabia, de facto leader of OPEC, to which the UAE also belongs, to drop any mention of fossil fuels  – which he did not do in a draft text.

The United Arab Emirates’ COP28 Director-General, Majid Al Suwaidi, said the COP28 presidency aimed for a “historic” result that included mentioning fossil fuels – but that it was up to countries to agree.

In a 6 December letter seen by Reuters, OPEC Secretary-General, Haitham Al Ghais, who attended the conference in Doha, urged members and allies to reject any COP28 deal that targeted fossil fuels.

READ: New COP28 draft deal stops short of fossil fuel ‘phase out’