There is ‘no science’ behind phasing out fossil fuels and the policy will take the world ‘back to caves’, according to the head of COP28.
The president of the Dubai climate change summit, Sultan al Jaber, made the comments during an online question and answer session at a She Changes Climate event.
As well as running Cop28, Al Jaber is also the chief executive of the United Arab Emirates’ state oil company, Adnoc.
His appointment as head of the Cop28 was branded ‘completely ridiculous’ by eco-warrior Greta Thunberg.
Sultan al Jaber made the comments during an online question and answer session at a She Changes Climate event
It is believed that cutting out fossil fossils will stop the world’s temperatures rising by 1.5C (Stock photo)
Al Jaber has allegedly used the climate summit to bag more oil and gas deals for his national petro-firm Adnoc
In the recently emerged video, obtained by The Guardian, the sultan was responding to questions from Mary Robinson, the chair of the Elders group and a former UN special envoy for climate change.
Ms Robinson said: ‘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.
‘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.’
Al Jaber replied: ‘I accepted to come to this meeting to have a sober and mature conversation.
Critics say Sultan Al Jaber shouldn’t head both a UN climate summit and a massive oil firm
More than 70,000 officials, campaigners, and experts are expected to attend COP28 in Dubai
‘I’m not in any way signing up to any discussion that is 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 1.5C.’
He added: ‘Please help me, show me the roadmap for a phase-out of fossil fuel that will allow for sustainable socioeconomic development, unless you want to take the world back into caves.’
Video of the question and answer session took place on November 21 but it only emerged on Sunday.
More than 100 countries already support a phase-out of fossil fuels.
It is believed that cutting out fossil fossils will stop the world’s temperatures rising by 1.5C.
The sultan’s appointment as head of the Cop28 was branded ‘completely ridiculous’ by eco-warrior Greta Thunberg
There have also been accusations that he plans to hash out new oil and gas deals on the sidelines of Cop28 (Stock photo)
The video emerged days after UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres called on the world to cut emissions to ‘save’ the planet.
Mr Guterres told the conference: ‘The science is clear: The 1.5C limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels.
‘Not reduce, not abate. Phase out, with a clear timeframe.’
Climate leaders have since reacted with fury over the sultan’s controversial remarks.
Chief executive of Climate Analytics Bill Hare said the comments were ‘verging on climate denial’.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Adow director of Power Shift Africa said: ‘The recent comments from the COP28 president show how entrenched he is in fossil fuel fantasy and is clearly determined that this COP doesn’t do anything to harm the interests of the oil and gas industry.’
When the United Arab Emirates announced in January that Sultan Al Jaber would lead this year’s COP28 climate talks, the news was met with high praise and harsh criticism in equal measure.
For some, Al Jaber – who earned his PhD in business and economics from Coventry University – was a fantastic choice.
In 2006, he was put in charge of Masdar, the UAE’s renewable energy vehicle, and set off on a global fact-finding mission to assess obstacles and opportunities.
The UAE has since invested heavily in its nuclear and solar sector, building a massive state-of-the-art nuclear power plant, and Masdar has made shrewd investments in technologies in over 40 countries – moves which have earned Jaber a reputation for getting results.
But for others, there’s one incontrovertible problem.
Because for all his work on renewable energy, ‘Dr Sultan’ also happens to be the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company – a giant producer of fossil fuels which plans to up its output to 5 million barrels of oil per day by 2027.
And Amnesty International has accused him of being responsible for instituting a stringent media censorship programme when he served as chairman of the National Media Council (NMC).
The backlash following the announcement earlier this year was significant, with some campaigners comparing the decision to ‘appointing the CEO of a cigarette company to oversee a conference on cancer cures’.
Teresa Anderson, the global lead on climate justice at ActionAid, made a similar comparison, likening the appointment to ‘putting the fox in charge of the henhouse’.
There have also been accusations that he plans to hash out new oil and gas deals on the sidelines of Cop28.
They are the latest claims to cast doubt on whether the talks will boost efforts to cut emissions of planet-heating gases, or are more akin to a public relations exercise for the Gulf petro-monarchy.
The Cop28 is the United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC.
This is the 28th conference and it is being held from November 30 until December 12 at Epo City, Dubai.
Cop28 is to serve as a formal meeting to negotiate and agree on action about how to tackle climate change.
The event has attracted such big names as King Charles III and Pope Francis. US President Joe Biden is however skipping the talks.
More than 70,000 officials, campaigners, and experts are expected to attend COP28 in Dubai.