Phase down of fossil fuels essential, but don’t want energy crisis: COP28 President

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Sultan al-Jaber, Emirates oil executive and president of the most important climate summit since the Paris Agreement in 2015, says the world will stop burning fossil fuels when there’s enough clean energy to replace them.

“We cannot shut down the energy system of today before we build the new energy system of tomorrow that is equipped with zero-carbon emission sources,” said Jaber, head of the United Arab Emirates national oil company ADNOC.

“We don’t want to create an energy crisis.”

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The phase down of fossil fuels is both “inevitable” and “essential,” he said, mindful of calls by some countries for a decision at COP28 to phase out fossil fuels from the global energy mix.

But “I don’t have a magic (wand)” as to when that will happen, he told AFP in Brussels, after outlining his action plan and goals for the year-end summit to ministers from European Union nations and China.

There are still 800 million people in the world -- mostly in Africa -- who still do not have electricity, Jaber pointed out, with a global population projected to expand significantly in the next 30 years.

“Even today, there’s already a shortage of supply,” he added.

Jaber has received strong endorsements from veteran climate negotiators such as UN Special Envoy John Kerry and UN Climate chief Simon Stiell, formerly a climate minister from Grenada.

Jaber has long experience as a climate negotiator, especially in his role as head of the government-owned renewable energy company Masdar, which he founded.

“Indeed, it is in our common interest to include someone who comes with a business background,” noting that he’s the first CEO to ever lead a climate COP.

“It gets me motivated to prove to the world that a person with my track record and credentials can provide a completely different set of value propositions through my experience,” he added.

With agencies

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