Sultan Al Jaber, president of the upcoming COP28 climate summit, has urged countries on Monday to find “common ground” on fossil fuels, a thorny issue that has divided negotiators for years.
“We cannot unplug the energy system of today before we build the new system of tomorrow,” Al Jaber told the Pre-COP28 summit, attended by around 70 ministers and 100 delegations.
“I know there are strong views about the idea of including language on fossil fuels and renewables in the negotiated text. I need you to work together to come forward with solutions that can achieve alignment, common ground, and consensus between all parties.”
Al Jaber’s comments come at a time when the world is facing a dual energy crisis: The need to transition away from fossil fuels to mitigate climate change, and the need to ensure energy security following the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Some countries, such as European nations and climate-vulnerable states, are demanding a deal to phase out fossil fuels altogether at COP28. Others, such as oil-producing countries or industrialising nations, are insisting on preserving a role for fossil fuels in the energy transition.
Al Jaber, who controversially for some also heads the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC Group), acknowledged the difficulty of finding consensus on the topic, but said it is essential for the success of COP28. “We need to find solutions that are both practical and achievable,” he said. “We need to work together to build a new energy system that is cleaner, more sustainable, and more secure.”
COP28, which takes place at the end of November, will be the first to fall after the first Global Stocktake, a two-year assessment of humanity’s efforts to meet the Paris Agreement. Leaders will have a clear picture of progress and gaps since the agreement was signed to help inform the discussions.
But the consensus is that we are not moving fast enough. A recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) found that at the current pace, with the share of fossil fuels in the energy mix dropping to 73% by 2030, we are on track for a warming of around 2.4 °C in 2100.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its Sixth Assessment, suggested that warming will exceed 1.5 °C during the 21st century, and limiting warming to 2 °C would require an “unprecedented acceleration” of mitigation efforts.
In light of this, both the World Economic Forum’s Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders and the We Mean Business Coalition have independently urged global leaders to tackle the issue of fossil fuels at the upcoming conference.
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