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Al Jaber clarifies that comments stating there is no scientific basis for the phase-out of fossil fuels were misinterpreted during the live session of Cop28.


The president of Cop28 and the head of an oil company responded fervently to a question posed by a reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald regarding the Guardian’s report. He asserted that he had been portrayed inaccurately and passionately defended his personal history and faith in scientific principles.

Al Jaber expressed deep admiration for Mary Robinson, despite previous accusations of arrogance towards her. He also mentioned feeling grateful for being invited to participate in a conversation about climate change and gender.

Next, he addressed the media coverage of his statements (which can be seen on camera in this blog at 08:57 AM).

“I would like to address any misunderstandings or misrepresentations about my stance on the science. To start, I am an engineer by profession and have a deep appreciation, conviction, and passion for the field. It is this dedication to the science that has propelled me in my career.”

He stated that he has enhanced his career by acquiring business and economic skills.

He stated: “It is crucial to have a gradual, fair, equitable, and responsible reduction in the use of fossil fuels.”

Al Jaber criticized individuals who shared his statement regarding the gradual elimination of fossil fuels, stating that they were attempting to discredit his message. He expressed his surprise at the repeated efforts to diminish the impact of his message.

Cop28. Obviously the main story was the surprise press conference held by Sultan Al Jaber, who was giving a response to Damian Carrington’s scoop on his comments questioning the science between fossil fuel phase out.

Before I pass the baton to my colleague Sandra Laville, I will provide you with a summary of the key points. Keep following along as this story develops – it is expected to be a tumultuous day at the summit.

  • Sultan Al Jaber, the president of Cop28, held an unexpected press conference following the publication of an article by the Guardian in which he allegedly stated that phasing out fossil fuels would hinder sustainable development and potentially regress the world to living in caves. At the conference, he clarified that his comments were misinterpreted and defended his actions, reaffirming his belief in the scientific evidence. He also expressed his satisfaction with the progress of Cop28 thus far. Despite this, he appeared visibly shaken and repeatedly reiterated his trust in scientific findings. Damian, the journalist who originally reported the story, sat in the front row.

  • The director general of the police, Majid Al Suwaidi, was also tasked with defending Al Jaber’s statements. He suggested that those who brought attention to them were trying to weaken the conference.

  • Delegates from small island nations expressed their determination to push for the elimination of fossil fuels, and to hold Sultan Al Jaber responsible for this goal.

  • During a press briefing on international financial systems, Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados stated that we are currently experiencing a time of unparalleled extremes. She noted that temperature and extreme weather records are being broken, and our financial systems are struggling to keep up.

  • Al Gore, former vice-president of the US, stated in a recent interview with The Guardian that a global commitment to eliminate the use of fossil fuels would be a momentous occasion for humanity. He also criticized the idea of appointing a CEO of a fossil fuel company as the leader of Cop28, deeming it illogical.

  • According to a recent study conducted by CARE International UK, organizations advocating for women’s rights are being excluded from receiving climate finance.

The president of Cop28 and the head of an oil company provided a remarkable reply when a reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald asked about the Guardian’s report. He stated that he had been portrayed inaccurately and passionately defended his personal history and faith in science.

Al Jaber expressed great admiration for Mary Robinson, despite facing accusations of arrogance towards the former Irish president. He stated that there was no scientific justification for phasing out fossil fuels. He also mentioned feeling privileged to have been invited to participate in a dialogue on climate and gender by Robinson.

Next, he was mentioned in media coverage for his remarks (recorded on this blog’s camera at 08:57).

“Allow me to clarify my stance on science. I believe there is some confusion and misrepresentation surrounding the topic. As an engineer, I have a strong background in the field and hold a deep respect, conviction, and passion for it, which has aided in my career progression.”

He stated that he has enhanced his career progression with knowledge in “business and economic skills.”

He stated that the gradual decrease and elimination of fossil fuels is crucial and must be done in an organized, equitable, ethical, and accountable manner.

Al Jaber expressed surprise at those who reported his remarks about gradually eliminating the use of fossil fuels, accusing them of undermining his message.

After doubting the validity of phasing out fossil fuels, the Cop28 president’s position was put into doubt.

He stated that his Cop had achieved great success, specifically highlighting the “groundbreaking agreement on loss and damage”. He has been emphasizing his commitment to making this happen and filling an “empty bank account”. Regarding the loss and damage agreement, he declared:

“Once again, this marks the first time in any police department, on the very first day, that such a decision has been made. This is a significant moment in history and a testament to our successes, which cannot be denied.”

He also stated that the conference addressed the issue of methane for the first time and has made it a key focus of his agenda.

The president of Cop28 has also brought awareness to the billions of dollars promised by nations during the initial four days of the conference.

Al Jaber expressed a true and honest desire to take on the responsibility and make an effort to turn the significant progress into tangible actions.

Information about his remarks that have caused controversy at the summit.

Sultan al-Jaber

After stating that a reduction in fossil fuel usage was not scientifically required to achieve a 1.5C decrease, he has maintained his respect for science.

“Let’s not forget the reason for our presence. We are all here because we have made a strong call to action and have been transparent about our intentions. We have consistently stated that the UAE approaches this task with humility, responsibility, and a deep understanding of the urgency surrounding this issue.”

We are present because we strongly value and acknowledge scientific research. By the year 2030, a decrease of 43% in worldwide emissions is necessary.

He emphasized that the science has been the main focus and center of attention, reiterating that he has been very clear about this.

Cop28 celebrates the agreement to increase nuclear energy threefold by 2050 and acknowledges the significant contribution of nuclear energy in reaching worldwide net-zero greenhouse gas emissions or carbon neutrality by approximately the middle of the century.

“I am pleased to see that nuclear energy is gaining support again,” he announced, referring to the decision of 22 countries to sign the pledge. These countries include the United States, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Hungary, and the Netherlands.

Emmanuel Macron addresses Cop28

He stated that nuclear energy should be included in the energy-lending policies of the World Bank, international financial institutions, and multilateral development banks.

Despite the potential risks associated with nuclear power, politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon from the left-wing party expressed his disagreement with the idea of an international declaration. He stated that it is “ridiculous” and suggests that those behind it are more concerned about the nuclear industry than the well-being of humanity.

Greenpeace France has raised concerns and accused Macron of having a strong bias towards nuclear energy, using it as a cover for his lack of commitment to addressing climate change.

We will provide further updates on Cop28 tomorrow.

Climate activists at Cop28

During the Climate Action Network’s daily update, Dr. David Boyd, the United Nations’ special rapporteur for human rights and the environment, emphasized the responsibility of countries to take action against climate change under international law. He stated that the climate crisis is a human rights issue, with far-reaching effects on the right to life, health, clean water, a sustainable environment, and the rights of children around the world. High-emitting countries have a duty to phase out fossil fuels and provide adequate funds for measures such as mitigation, adaptation, and addressing loss and damage. While it would be preferable to explicitly mention human rights in the [Cop] text, these obligations exist regardless of their inclusion in official documents.

Boyd advocates for a carbon tax, which, at a rate of $30 per ton, would generate a significant amount of one trillion dollars each year.

Lastly, with the departure of the leaders, negotiations intensify. Lili Fuhr, Director of CIEL’s Fossil Economy Program, cautions that the Global Stocktake (GST) may become “overinflated and insignificant”. She points out that the US, known for its harmful impact on the climate, is pushing for extensive oil and gas expansion and is advocating for unabated emissions. This aligns with the misleading solutions promoted by the fossil fuel industry at this event. Fuhr emphasizes the urgency of addressing the phase-out of fossil fuels in the GST decision, as time is of the essence.

Many individuals have lost confidence in the efforts of Cop28’s president, Sultan Al Jaber, due to his comments that appeared to undermine those advocating for a fossil fuel phase-out.

However, according to Bob Ward from the Grantham Institute, there is still progress being made at the summit. Despite the potentially discouraging comments, we should not lose hope.

Sultan Al Jaber’s statement that there is no scientific evidence or scenario supporting the idea that phasing out fossil fuels will lead to achieving 1.5C has sparked controversy among individuals in Dubai, as reported by the Guardian.

Majid Al Suwaidi

As he departed, journalists swarmed around him and he remarked:

There are individuals who have been consistently attempting to challenge our presidency since its beginning. The leadership of Cop has strongly emphasized the importance of achieving the 1.5 degree Celsius goal. [Al Jaber] has also made it clear that addressing the use of fossil fuels is a top priority.

The main topic of discussion was achieving net zero emissions by the year 2050. According to numerous scientific reports, fossil fuels will still play a role in achieving this goal. The CEO of Adnoc, a state-owned oil company in the UAE, has expressed his belief that the reduction of fossil fuel usage is unavoidable. Being well-versed in both the science and industry, he was curious about the practical steps for accomplishing this.

“There are multiple events taking place at Cop that are not being mentioned, yet you are fixated on a single issue. However, Cop encompasses a variety of aspects and we have consistently emphasized the importance of energy as our top priority. We are not trying to conceal it. I believe our Cop president is handling the situation well.”

Over 100 nations are advocating for a complete elimination, rather than a gradual reduction, of fossil fuels. Numerous scientists have refuted Al Jaber’s statements, citing evidence from the IPCC and IEA. They have also dismissed his argument that getting rid of fossil fuels would hinder sustainable economic and social progress, unless we want to regress back to primitive living. Independent analysis shows that Adnoc has the largest initiatives to counteract net-zero emissions while simultaneously ramping up oil and gas production.

According to the Cop28 president, it is evident from scientific evidence that the use of oil and gas must be gradually decreased in order to achieve the 1.5 degree target.

The organization Cop28 has announced their commitment to persistently advocating for the elimination of fossil fuels, and holding Sultan Al Jaber responsible for this action.

During a press conference held by the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis) this morning, the delegates emphasized the urgent need to abandon the use of fossil fuels in order to limit global warming to 1.5C. This goal is especially crucial for developing, low-lying island nations.

Tina Stege, climate envoy of the Marshall Islands, pointed out that Al Jaber, the president of Cop28 who has come under fire for his comments that there is “no science” to a fossil fuel phase-out in keeping to this temperature limit, has called 1.5C the “north star” of the negotiations.

Climate Envoy of the Republic of the Marshall Islands Tina Stege

Stege stated that they will hold the individual accountable for their statement. If 1.5 degrees Celsius is the goal, it will require a gradual elimination of fossil fuels as recommended by science. This is the starting point and ultimate destination. In Stege’s opinion, they are relying on the president’s guidance to follow through on their promise.

“Overall, there is a consensus that maintaining a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius is crucial for the survival of all. This requires us to tackle the main issue at hand, which is the burning of fossil fuels. If we fail to do so, we will surpass the 1.5 degree mark…We cannot ignore the fact that countless lives are at risk and must find alternative solutions to achieve this goal.”

When questioned by the Guardian about their trust in Al Jaber’s ability to lead the Cop process, Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, who is both Samoa’s environment minister and the chair of Aosis, acknowledged the practical considerations involved in ongoing diplomatic efforts.

Schuster stated that there is still one week remaining and they wish to persist with their efforts. They have specific objectives and will choose to advocate for their beliefs.

Some people expressed dissatisfaction this weekend with Cop28 for not giving enough attention to carbon capture and storage. According to research, achieving net zero emissions by 2050 through a high CCS pathway is estimated to cost $30 trillion more than a low CCS pathway, equivalent to approximately $1 trillion per year.

Oil and gas corporations are optimistic that CCS technology can prolong their activities on a larger scale. However, the validity of this belief has been questioned by the scientific community, as it may not be feasible to implement on a large scale and may only be effective in heavily industrialized sectors that are challenging to decarbonize.

The summit this week will highlight CCS, as it is anticipated that major oil and gas producing nations will announce mutual carbon storage objectives.

According to the Smith School at the University of Oxford, implementing CCS across the entire economy, instead of focusing on select essential sectors, does not make financial sense.

Dr. Rupert Way, Honorary Research Associate at the Oxford Smith School, states that using mass deployment of CCS to support continued heavy reliance on fossil fuels would result in an annual cost of around one trillion dollars for society, causing significant economic harm.

Human Rights Watch released a report.

According to a HRW study in September 2023, the average PM2.5 levels at 30 government ground monitoring stations were nearly three times higher than the daily recommended levels set by the World Health Organization’s air quality guidelines. PM2.5 refers to tiny toxic particles that can deeply penetrate the lungs and enter the bloodstream easily.

Around 1,872 individuals lose their lives each year due to outdoor air pollution in the UAE. The majority of the population in the country consists of migrants, making up 88%, and almost all outdoor workers, who are at the greatest risk, are also migrants. Since thousands of delegates arrived in Dubai for Cop28, the sky has been filled with hazy pollution on most days. Daily air quality measurements have been reported to be up to five times higher than the recommended levels by the World Health Organization.

Read more below.

Source: theguardian.com