COP28 Chief’s Global Tour Begins With a Defense of Fossil Fuels

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Oil and gas will have a key role to play even as the world shifts to cleaner energy and climate talks should reflect the challenges of energy poverty, according to the president of this year’s COP summit.

The United Arab Emirates, which will host COP28, is canvassing other nations in the build up to the event in Dubai and aims to champion the needs of emerging countries with limited access to electricity, Sultan Al Jaber said Tuesday at an energy forum in Bengaluru.

“The world still needs hydrocarbons and will need them to bridge from the current energy system to the new one,” Al Jaber said, as he held talks in India on the first stop of a round of pre-COP diplomacy. “We cannot unplug the current energy system before we have built the new one.”

Al Jaber’s appointment to his COP position has been contentious because of his role as head of the OPEC member’s state oil and gas producer, Adnoc. He’s also chairman of Masdar, one of the largest renewable-energy investors in the world.

The UAE pumps about 3.4 million barrels of crude a day, making it the biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and is investing to raise production further.

Talks in India come ahead of planned discussions in Europe and the US aimed at shaping the UAE’s agenda for COP28, which starts in late November. There must be a focus on how to “hold back emissions, not progress,” Al Jaber told the forum.

Nations should aim to raise spending on technologies including carbon capture, nuclear power and hydrogen, according to Al Jaber.

“Spending on these fundamental enablers of decarbonization are less than 5% of what is spent on renewables,” he said. “This must change.”

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