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Friday, September 22, 2023

UAE’s al-Jaber promises young activist he will listen; says nothing about fossil fuel ties


BONN, Germany — Officials from the United Arab Emirates, named to lead the next global climate summit, pledged Thursday to listen to young voices demanding a seat at the table when negotiators gather in the Gulf state this autumn, but there was no response Criticism of his ties to fossil fuel interests.

Speaking at the United Nations climate conference for the first time this year, UAE Industry Minister Sultan al-Jaber said he wanted the COP28 summit in Dubai to be “inclusive” and bring about “game-changing outcomes” for international efforts to tackle climate change.

“I am determined to make your engagement a success,” he said in a brief address to representatives of youth activist groups that have been calling on leaders to take tough action on global warming.

Comments made by al-Jaber in Bonn, Germany, drew cautious reactions from the audience.

“Many, including children and youth around the world, are very concerned about the integrity of (the UN talks) about your relationship and connection to the fossil fuel industry,” said Clara von Grasso of the International Network Youth Climate Movement ( Clara von Glasow) more than 1,000 campaign groups, told al-Jaber. “Now is your time to prove them wrong and show that you really mean business.”

“You have a unique opportunity, a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate leadership,” she said. “You can be a champion for change and make sure we phase out fossil fuels immediately.”

Al-Jaber, who is also chief executive of ADNOC, opposed the idea of ​​calling for an end to the use of fossil fuels.

Speaking at a diplomatic reception late Thursday, al-Jaber called for “a just and balanced energy transition that leaves no one behind.”

The goal should be a global energy system “without any fossil fuels,” he said. The term “mitigation” refers to steps taken to reduce or capture greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, an idea experts say is technically challenging and expensive.

“There are no zero-emission fossil fuels,” says Hanna Fekete of the NewClimate think tank, “It’s always more efficient to produce renewable energy and use it directly.”

Fekete published a report with Climate Action Tracker on Thursday showing that many major oil and gas producers, including the United Arab Emirates and the United States, are now increasing output.

“The industry is behaving like a gold rush, not a climate crisis,” the authors warn.

That runs counter to the pledges made by countries at the Paris summit in 2015 to try to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial levels. To achieve this, scientists say, carbon emissions need to halve by 2030 and reach “net zero” by mid-century.

Much of the painful but necessary emissions cuts in coral reef nations will fall to al-Jaber between November 30 and December. 12 talks, when negotiators will approve the first global assessment of what has been done since the Paris conference and what gaps still need to be filled. So far, preliminary talks attended by al-Jaber in Bonn, Germany, have not even been able to agree on a formal agenda.

Outside the venue, bus stops were covered with posters emphasizing Jaber’s ties to the oil industry. Inside, activists unfurled a giant banner that read “End Fossil Fuels.”

Alden Meyer, a longtime observer of climate talks at the Brussels-based E3G, said past summit chairs had had their most successful talks when they put their own national interests aside to find an agreement acceptable to all of the nearly 200 participating countries.

“Whether Dr. Jaber wants to do it, is he able to do it, does he have the permission of the UAE leadership, that’s a real question,” Meyer said. The oil and gas producer wants to expand production, and if he wants to have a success COP. “

Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a Nairobi-based group, said it was in the UAE’s interest to curb global warming — something Al-Jaber himself acknowledged.

“If we continue to burn fossil fuels for their people, the people of many other countries will be cooked,” he said, adding that the UAE could benefit a lot from a smooth transition to clean energy sources such as wind and solar , both energy sources are well-stocked in the UAE.

“What we need is for the chairman of COP28 to stop acting like the CEO of an oil company, only worried about margins for the next quarter, and instead act like a responsible leader,” Adow said.


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