The new president of COP28 has called for a tripling of renewable energy generation by 2030 while highlighting the need for oil and gas from “less carbon-intensive producers,” following his controversial appointment to lead this year’s UN climate summit.
Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, was appointed to the position by host country the United Arab Emirates earlier this week. In a speech on Saturday he said the world was “off track” to meet its climate goals and was “playing catch-up”.
The Paris Climate Agreement, signed by nearly 200 countries, obliges countries to limit temperature rises to 2°C and ideally 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. Last year was the fifth warmest on record, he concluded. Top scientists of the European Union and the United States this month.
To rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Jaber said, the world must triple renewable energy generation by 2030 and “more than double” production of “low-carbon hydrogen”.
The International Energy Agency, the International Renewable Energy Agency and the United Nations said last year in a joint report that the world would need to add four times the amount of renewable energy deployed in 2021 each year by 2030 to avoid catastrophic climate change. The International Energy Agency has warned that it is not necessary to produce new oil, gas or coal for the world to reduce global warming.
Jaber’s appointment sparked a backlash from climate experts, who said his position at the helm of Adnoc presented a conflict of interest and raised concerns that the COP28 host country could undermine efforts to reduce global production and use of fossil fuels.
Jaber defended the UAE’s credentials, placing the country in a leading position in its peer group. He said it was the first country in the region to commit to the Paris Agreement and the first to set a roadmap for net zero emissions.
Masdar, the renewable energy company Jaber launched in 2006, has also been a regional pioneer, aiming to have a 100-gigawatt portfolio by 2030, he said in a speech at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Forum.
Jaber argued that one solution to mitigating climate change, besides rapidly accelerating renewable energy production, is the use of “less carbon-intensive oil and gas,” and stressed the need for a “just transition that leaves no one behind.”
The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, both major OPEC members, are vying to be the countries selling the last barrels of oil as demand for the fuel falls, claiming that their production processes are less emissions-intensive per barrel than those of other nations.
Emission intensities are linked to output, and allow for a continuous rise in absolute emissions and continued production of fossil fuels.
Last year’s COP summit hosted by Egypt ended in disappointment for climate activists and many developed and developing countries alike.
Countries including Saudi Arabia and Russia blocked efforts by a broad coalition including the European Union and the United States to include a reference to phasing out all fossil fuels in the agreement agreed at the summit.
Jaber said he wanted this year’s summit to be about making progress on key issues including climate change mitigation and adaptation.
He called for the summit, which will start in November, to be a “practical COP” and a “action” summit.
He said, “I am here to listen and participate.” “I urge all parties to help make COP28 a conference of tangible results and practical solutions.”
COP27 has also drawn repeated criticism from civil society groups and human rights advocates who say the Egyptian presidency has allowed no more than very limited opportunities for protests, and has not made those who would otherwise appear feel safe.
Emirati officials insisted they would facilitate the protest and welcome all voices seeking solutions to climate change.
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