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Al Jaber promises Cop28 is focused on ‘the science’

Sultan Al Jaber said there had been 'misrepresentation and misinterpretation' of his position Reuters/Thaier Al-Sudani
Sultan Al Jaber said there had been 'misrepresentation and misinterpretation' of his position
  • Cop28 chief defends record
  • Science remarks ‘misinterpreted’
  • Judge us on results, says Al Jaber

Dr Sultan Al Jaber defended his work as president of Cop28 on Monday, after criticism of remarks he made about climate science.

“Everything this presidency has been working on, and continues to work on, is focused and centred around the science,” he told reporters in a press briefing at the UN summit.

The Guardian newspaper published an article on Sunday with the headline “Cop28 president says there is ‘no science’ behind demands for phase-out of fossil fuels” – but Al Jaber said on Monday he believed there had been “misrepresentation and misinterpretation” of his position.

“I’m quite surprised at the constant and repeated attempts to undermine the work of the Cop28 presidency,” he told reporters in Dubai.

The “no science” remark comes from a panel discussion in November, when Al Jaber told Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland: “There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5 [the target for limiting global warning to 1.5C].”

However, he added that the 1.5C target was his “north star” and described the phase-down and phase-out of fossil fuel as “inevitable”.

Speaking at the press conference in Dubai, Jim Skea, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said fossil fuel use would need to be “greatly reduced” in order to meet the 1.5C target by 2050.

Oil use would have to drop by 60 percent and natural gas consumption by 45 percent, according to Skea, while the use of unabated coal must be completely phased out.

Al Jaber, who is also CEO of state oil giant Adnoc, has come under fire for inviting fossil fuel producers to the negotiating table at this year’s Cop summit.

Tzeporah Berman, a Canadian activist and chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, told AGBI: “Countries who are producing fossil fuels need to stop negotiating with the fossil fuel companies and start regulating them if we’re serious about meeting our climate goals.”

Some 50 oil and natural gas producers, including Saudi Aramco and 29 other national oil companies, signed an agreement on Saturday to reduce their carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 and curb methane emissions to near-zero by 2030.

But Al Jaber stressed that this “bold” step was not enough.

“I know that the oil and gas industries and the heavy-emitting industries can do much more,” he said.

Since Cop28 began on Thursday, eight declarations have been announced, including the creation of an historic loss and damage fund on the opening day.

More than $57 billion in pledges and funding have been unveiled during the first four days. 

Al Jaber said on Monday: “I am committed and determined to deliver the most ambitious response to the global stocktake.

“Judge us on what we will deliver at the end of this.”

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