The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) strongly opposes the elimination of fossil fuels at the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28), according to leaked correspondence.
The Opec oil cartel has sent a warning to its member nations about the pressing need to address the use of fossil fuels, stating that failure to do so could result in irreversible consequences. The leaked letters, obtained by the Guardian, emphasize the urgency of this matter in light of the upcoming Cop28 event.
The correspondence stated that the possibility of phasing out fossil fuels is still being discussed at the UN climate conference and encourages oil-producing nations to actively oppose any language or equation that specifically targets energy sources, such as fossil fuels, instead of emissions.
On Friday, the news outlets Bloomberg and Reuters reported that several reliable sources had verified the legitimacy of the documents, which revealed that Opec had chosen not to provide a statement. The Guardian has not verified the documents and Opec did not reply to their request for comment.
The words indicate the extent of Opec’s concern that Cop28 could be a pivotal moment for the oil and gas industry, which they claim “endangers the prosperity and future of our people.”
On 6 December, Haitham al-Ghais, the secretary general of Opec and a Kuwaiti oil executive, sent letters with the same content and signature to the 13 member countries of Opec, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Nigeria. These nations collectively possess 80% of the world’s oil reserves and have produced approximately 40% of global oil output in the past 10 years.
Mohamed Adow, from Power Shift Africa, stated that these letters demonstrate a growing awareness among fossil fuel companies that their industry is facing inevitable decline. He added that the impact of climate change on vulnerable communities is evident and yet these oil-rich nations are resistant to the idea of reducing fossil fuel use in Cop28, prioritizing their own financial gain over global well-being. This behavior is disgraceful.
“If we want to save our planet, we cannot allow a select few countries to hold onto control of the world’s oil supply. A transition to renewable energy not only mitigates the effects of climate change, but also disperses and democratizes energy resources. Fossil fuels currently give power to a privileged few.”
The United Arab Emirates, a member of Opec, received the same letter as well since they are hosting Cop28. Over 100 nations are pushing for the final decision at Cop28 to include a plan to gradually eliminate the use of fossil fuels. This would send a powerful message that the era of coal, oil, and gas is coming to an end and would support the necessary reductions that scientists have emphasized are necessary.
The main cause of the climate emergency is the release of carbon from the combustion of fossil fuels. These emissions continue to increase, but must decrease by nearly half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 in order to have a reasonable chance of limiting global warming to the agreed-upon limit of 1.5C. The severe impacts of extreme weather are already being felt and will escalate quickly if temperatures rise above 1.5C.
The message was additionally delivered to ten nations that are allies of Opec, referred to as Opec+ countries, which include Russia and Mexico. The letter stated: “Although Opec [and Opec+] countries are committed to addressing climate change and have a demonstrated history of taking action, it is unacceptable for politically-driven campaigns to jeopardize the prosperity and future of our people.”
2 from entering the atmosphere
The countries that heavily rely on oil revenue prioritize reducing emissions over addressing the use of fossil fuels. They argue that implementing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology can effectively prevent CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.2 reaching the atmosphere.
According to the International Energy Agency’s leader, Fatih Birol, the technology for carbon capture and storage (CCS) is not capable of expanding enough to offset the emissions from the oil and gas industry if their current practices continue. Birol stated, “It is not a realistic possibility, but rather a wishful thinking or false belief.”
Relying heavily on CCS to achieve net zero goals by 2050 would result in significant economic harm, with a projected cost of at least $30 trillion more than opting for renewable energy, as stated in a report released on December 4th by researchers from the University of Oxford.
According to The Guardian’s report on Sunday, Sultan Al Jaber, the president of Cop28 and CEO of the UAE’s state oil company, stated prior to the summit that “there is no evidence to support the idea that phasing out fossil fuels will lead to achieving 1.5C”. This statement has been refuted by numerous scientists.
At a press conference the next day, Al Jaber strongly stood by his beliefs and stated, “I have repeatedly stated that the reduction and elimination of fossil fuels is unavoidable. In fact, it is necessary.” He clarified that his statements had been misunderstood.
According to Katrin Ganswindt from the German NGO Urgewald, Opec’s appeal is a frantic plea from an industry that is overly reliant on a single-minded approach to growth, which has no place in a world aligned with 1.5C goals. Countries should reject this proposal and instead take the crucial step towards a rapid elimination of fossil fuels and a fair transition to renewable energy, without any hesitation or conditions.
Harjeet Singh, the leader of worldwide political strategy at Climate Action Network International, expressed that this is a last-ditch effort to stop the progress towards eliminating the use of fossil fuels. The world is no longer influenced by tactics of denying the truth and spreading false information. The calls for climate justice are becoming louder and more forceful, leaving no space for the fossil fuel industry to use sneaky methods to prolong action.