COP28 Opens to Controversy over Fossil Fuels Phase-Out

This year’s UN conference on climate change is not being totally scripted by the World Economic Forum and the IPCC. And it will likely turn out to be much worse, from their standpoint, than last year’s event in Egypt, as the voice of the Global South has become much stronger since then.

The tone for the event, which runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 in Dubai, was given by the President of COP28, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, who is Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology of the United Arab Emirates, as well as CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.. Rather than focusing on the phasing-out of fossil fuels, he announced the creation of a “loss and damage fund” for developing countries that suffer major floods, droughts, typhoons, etc., and pledging $100 million from his country.

So far, so good for the climate lobby. But then, on Dec.1, Dr. Al Jaber made another pledge of $30 billion to a fund to be called Alterra, together with BlackRock, Inc. and Brookfield (former Bank of England head Mark Carney’s operation). The aim of this fund is to help fossil fuel companies reach the target of net-zero emissions by 2050. That is a far cry from the UN’s alarmist timetable of an accelerated phase-out of fossil fuels “before it is too late”.

Note that the UAE, which is one of the six new members of the BRICS together with Saudi Arabia, intends to increase its oil production and to develop nuclear energy. Sultan Al Jaber’s pragmatist approach to the energy issue, at odds with the usual doomsday scenarios, had already led to hysterical calls to replace him as president of COP28. That was even more so the case after a debate he had on Nov. 21 with the former UN Special Envoy for Climate Change Mary Robinson. He stated on that occasion:

“I accepted to come to this meeting to have a sober and mature conversation. I’m not in any way signing up to any discussion that is alarmist. 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…. Please help me, show me the roadmap for a phase-out of fossil fuel that will allow for sustainable socioeconomic development, unless you want to take the world back into caves.”

The outcry was such that Sultan Al Jaber did have to speak more moderately at the opening of the COP28, but the message is clear.

The Indian government, for its part, has reportedly refused to sign sign two separate pledges at COP28 calling for the phase-down of coal power, as has China. And African countries are expected to resist dictates on carbon reduction, as they did last year in Egypt. In a statement issued Nov. 29, the Africa Energy Chamber, while formally endorsing the COP28 agenda, strongly defended Africa’s right to benefit from its natural resources. “African states also need their fossil fuels, natural gas in particular, to help alleviate the debilitating energy poverty impacting more than 600 million people. The people of Africa have waited long enough for the advantages and opportunities of modernization….”

Another setback to the “green” fanatics faction was the push for nuclear energy endorsed by many developed countries (cf. the following item).

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