Phasing down of fossil fuels ‘inevitable’: UAE COP28 president-designate al-Jaber

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The phasing down of fossil fuels is “inevitable”, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) COP28 President-Designate Sultan al-Jaber said, adding that this can only happen when countries ramp up their renewable energy capacity.

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“Phasing down fossil fuels is inevitable, and it is essential – it’s going to happen,” al-Jaber said in an interview with the Guardian published on Thursday.

“What I’m trying to say is you can’t unplug the world from the current energy system before you build the new energy system. It’s a transition: transitions don’t happen overnight, transition takes time.”

Al-Jaber, who is also head of the UAE’s national oil company ADNOC, welcomed scrutiny on the country in the lead up to the November climate talks which will begin in November this year in Dubai.

“When we signed up to the hosting of COP, we knew exactly what we were signing up to. I don’t think there has ever been a country that has hosted the COP that did not get this type of pressure or heat from activists and media, so that’s part of the game,” he said.

He continued: “The scrutiny sometimes also makes us dig deeper into issues, understand better, analyze more … to draw better conclusions. Never have I said that I have all the solutions, or I have all the answers.”

Al-Jaber is set to lay out his plan for the upcoming COP28 climate talks on Thursday before a meeting of around 40 countries including the EU, Canada and China in Brussels.

A likely part of Thursday’s plan could mean that fossil fuel companies are included at the COP28 talks, the British newspaper said.

“They [oil and gas companies] are not being seen as part of the solution – so we need to stop that perception,” the Guardian cited al-Jaber as saying.

“They must be invited, they must be given the responsibility, and they must be held accountable, through a proper monitoring arrangement.”

Earlier this week, as part of his role as COP28 president-designate, al-Jaber participated in a climate finance forum in London alongside US President Joe Biden and the UK’s King Charles III.

“Climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution. All financial actors must work within a new framework of solidarity to enable climate finance at the scale, scope and speed that the world needs,” state news agency WAM reported al-Jaber as saying on Thursday.

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UAE’s COP28 head urges ‘accessible’ global climate finance

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