DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Efforts to wean the world off dirty fossil fuels have gained so much momentum that they have provoked a powerful enemy: the oil industry, veteran negotiators at U.N. climate talks said Saturday.
Late Friday, multiple news sources reported that the leader of OPEC, the powerful oil cartel, wrote to member states earlier this week urging them to block any language that would phase out fossil fuels. The news had a thunderbolt effect, putting the spotlight on the host and petro-state UAE, which clearly has oil interests but also wants to show the world that it can lead the conference towards a substantive outcome.
Environmental activists, still aching after decades of soft power accrued by oil interests that prevented such discussions from seeing the light of day, grinned at signs that the supercartel was circling the wagons.
“I think they’re panicking, maybe the Saudis can’t do on their own what they’ve been doing for 30 years and are blocking the process,” said Alden Meyer, an analyst at climate think tank E3G.
Former Irish President Mary Robinson said: “They are afraid. I think they are worried.”
Robinson, co-chair of the retired leaders group The Elders, is now a prominent climate activist. She said OPEC’s concern “gives me hope.” Last month She has publicly clashed with the head of the COP28 negotiationsSultan Al Jaber, who is also the CEO of the UAE National Oil Company.
German climate envoy Jennifer Morgan suggested that any call to block a deal would have a greater impact on small countries vulnerable to sea level rise caused by global warming.
“Right now, the countries here are fighting for their lives. The small islands and most of the countries here are very actively involved in this discussion in a real way,” she said in an interview. “And I think it is clear that it is not a responsibility to have a position that can mean – will mean – a life.” “And the death of several million people.”
Majed Al Suwaidi, Director-General of COP28, downplayed the importance of OPEC’s message, saying that the UAE team running the climate conference is meeting with negotiators to reach an ambitious agreement. The oil cartel has no official connection to climate negotiations.
“I am confident that we will get a good result that you will be surprised by,” Al-Suwaidi told the Associated Press.
OPEC did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. Protesters on Saturday briefly blocked OPEC’s bid at climate talks, demanding an immediate phase-out of fossil fuels.
While discussions revolved around the message and how to transition away from fossil fuels, the world came closer to deciding where the climate conference will be held next year, a third oil country. Azerbaijan announced that it will host the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP29) in Baku, where one of the first oil fields in history originated. But UN officials said the deal had not yet been completed because the proper paperwork had not been submitted.
The conference presidency was showing off Deal after dealMany of them include pledges of hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars, but they have sidelined the main issue of reducing emissions. When it comes to curbing climate-changing gases, a major group of scientists analyzing pledges, actions and potential temperature increases said in a report released Saturday that not all measures go far enough.
“The COP28 presidency achieved much on a wide range of voluntary initiatives, while adopting an ambiguous and weak position on the central issue of phasing out fossil fuels,” said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, and co-author of the report. .
The storm of controversy came on Saturday with protests at the Dubai Convention Centre Speeding upwith a “World Day of Action” urging countries to act decisively to stop Climate change Officials from various countries spoke increasingly urgently at official meetings. OPEC’s rhetoric fueled their anger.
“Under current policies, the planet is on track for 2.9°C (5.2°F above pre-industrial temperature) in the future. We cannot adapt to warming that much; the loss and damage will be incalculable,” said John Silk. Marshall Islands Minister of Natural Resources: “It will be a death sentence for us.”
He added: “We will not go silently to our graves.”
The rapid phase-out of fossil fuels has emerged as a central issue in the talks as they approach their final days. Activists and experts warned that the world must quickly reduce the use of oil, gas and coal, which cause dangerous global warming.
Mohamed Addo, director of Power Shift Africa, described the December 6 letter from OPEC Secretary-General Haitham Al-Ghais as “shameful” and said “the writing is on the wall regarding dirty energy.”
Negotiators are working on developing language in a key document called the “Global Inventory.” It will show how much progress the world has made since the 2015 Paris Agreement – in which countries agreed to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times – and what it should do next.
New proposed language on how to limit global warming released Friday afternoon strengthened the fossil fuel phase-out options negotiators could choose from. Four of the five options call for some version of rapid phase-out.
“The basic bones of a historic agreement are in place,” Addo said. “What we need now is for countries to rally behind the strongest options and advance them further.”
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