Despite overwhelming evidence to show impact of fossil fuels on climate, COP28 president, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, claims there is “no science” to support phasing out fossil fuels.

The president of the COP28 climate conference, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, is facing calls to quit from climate activists after he claimed there is “no science” to evidence a necessity to phase out fossil fuels.

“There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says that the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5°C,” claimed the Emirati politician, who is also head of the United Arab Emirates’ state oil company, Adnoc. In remarks at a fringe event first reported by The Guardian and the Centre for Climate Reporting, he claimed such a policy would “take the world back into caves”.

Chair of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group and former UK chief scientific adviser, Professor Sir David King, called Mr Al Jaber’s defence of the use of fossil fuels “incredibly concerning and surprising”. “It is undeniable that to limit global warming to 1.5C we must all rapidly reduce carbon emissions and phase-out the use of fossil fuels by 2035 at the latest. The alternative is an unmanageable future for humanity,” he said.

Teresa Anderson of ActionAid International urged Mr Al Jaber to “show leadership and commit to a phase-out agenda – not one that will wreak further harm and plunge the planet further on the brink of climate meltdown”.

“Sultan Jaber’s comments are completely divorced from the reality of hundreds of millions of people on the frontline of climate catastrophe… With climate disasters worsening with each year, his comments fly in the face of all science and offer up another lifeline for climate-wrecking fossil fuel industries,” she added.

Climate scientist Prof Michael Mann called for Mr Al Jaber to resign – while other campaigners likened his role to putting “Dracula in charge at the blood bank” given his role in the oil industry. Bill Hare, senior scientist at policy institute Climate Analytics, said the comments were “verging on climate denialism”.

His position is in direct contrast to that of UN secretary general, António Guterres, who told delegates on Friday: “The science is clear: The 1.5C limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels. Not reduce, not abate. Phase out, with a clear timeframe.”

The COP28 president made the remarks in a live online event with Mary Robinson, former UN special envoy for climate change, hosted by She Changes Climate, a campaign group and gender equality and climate action. He had been responding to Ms Robinson, who said the absence of a commitment to phasing out fossil fuels had left the world “in an absolute crisis that is hurting women and children more than anyone”.

Whether the final COP28 agreement uses the term “phasing out” of fossil fuels or the more diluted version of “phasing down” will be one of the key questions on which campaigners measure the success of the conference.

Many had already criticised Mr Al Jaber’s presidency as representing a serious conflict of interest, given his role in the UAE’s state oil firm – which pumped 2.7 million barrels of oil per day in 2021, and currently has plans to double that by 2027.

The BBC alleged ahead of the conference that the UAE planned to use its role as host as an opportunity to strike oil and gas deals with 15 nations, citing leaked briefing documents.

Mr Al Jaber has defended his position as both COP president and head of an oil company, arguing that it makes sense because he can help persuade the oil industry to change from the inside.

The controversy surrounding the fossil fuel comments comes as COP holds its first-ever health day, with delegates including physicians and activists calling for greater global efforts in response to increasing health risks brought by climate change. The president has called climate impacts “one of the greatest threats to human health in the 21st century”.

More than 120 countries signed a declaration on climate and health at the conference on Saturday, however it has been criticised for not specifically singling out fossil fuels as a cause.

“Not including fossil fuels’ role as the leading cause of climate change and climate-related health threats is a glaring omission”, said Dr Jeni Miller, executive director of the Global Climate and Health Alliance. “As well as being a major source of air pollution, fossil fuel use impacts the health of communities and workers. The human right to health and to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is also a glaring omission,” Dr Miller added.

Original source: https://inews.co.uk

There must be no tolerance for fossil fuels