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As fossil fuel rift delays COP28, Arab energy leaders say oil here to stay


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As fossil fuel rift delays COP28, Arab energy leaders say oil here to stay

ENERGY TALKS. Officials including energy ministers of several Arab countries attend the 12th Arab Energy Conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Doha, Qatar, December 11, 2023.

Yousef Saba/Reuters

The closing statement of the Arab Energy Conference in Doha recommends measures to develop fossil fuels

DOHA, Qatar – Oil and gas will be “pillars of global energy for many decades to come,” the closing statement of a meeting of Arab energy ministers said on Tuesday, December 12, as the issue of ending the use of fossil fuels sent COP28 into overtime in pursuit of a deal.

Delegates at the United Nations climate talks in the United Arab Emirates, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), are divided as some demand a call for a “phaseout” of oil, gas, and coal as the biggest cause of global warming.

Arab and other hydrocarbon producers consider attempts at reducing fossil fuels as a blow to their economies.

“I am surprised by this ferocious attack of what is called ‘phasing out’ of oil or reducing dependence on oil as a source of energy with such ferocity that perhaps is matched by the greed of the West in general in seizing control of the economy,” Kuwait’s Oil Minister Saad Al Barrak said at the Arab Energy Conference on Tuesday.

He accused the West that he said, as a colonial power had “plundered” the wealth of Asia and Africa, of double standards in its attempt to take the lead “in ensuring the safety of the human environment through climate agreements.”

The closing statement of the Arab Energy Conference in Doha recommended measures to develop fossil fuels, including developing national energy companies and creating mechanisms “to maintain production levels and work to provide additional production capacities.”

On the subject of the climate, it said Arab countries should adopt “balanced development policies, including integrating the environmental dimension into development plans,” adding investments should also be made in renewable energy, hydrogen, and nuclear power.

Sources familiar with the discussions said the UAE’s COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber had faced pressure from Saudi Arabia, de facto leader of OPEC, to which the UAE also belongs, to drop any mention of fossil fuels – which he did not do in a draft text.

The United Arab Emirates’ COP28 Director General Majid Al Suwaidi said the COP28 presidency aimed for a “historic” result that included mentioning fossil fuels – but that it was up to countries to agree.

In a December 6 letter seen by Reuters, OPEC Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais, who attended the conference in Doha, urged members and allies to reject any COP28 deal that targeted fossil fuels. – Rappler.com

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