(CTN News) – The UN climate talks witnessed intensified discussions on the future of fossil fuels, as OPEC faced criticism for its efforts to impede any phase-out in the final agreement.
Throughout the COP28 talks in Dubai, the tone has fluctuated between optimism and concern regarding the progress made in finding a compromise on the fate of oil, gas, and coal.
OPEC further fueled the debate when it was revealed that its Kuwaiti secretary general, Haitham Al Ghais, sent a letter urging members and allies to actively oppose any language that targets fossil fuels rather than emissions.
Spanish ecology transition minister Teresa Ribera, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, expressed her disappointment, stating, “I find it extremely disheartening that OPEC countries are resisting the necessary measures.”
The statement made by French Energy Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher has left her in a state of shock and frustration.
The urgency to significantly increase the implementation of renewable energy sources, while simultaneously reducing the production and consumption of fossil fuels, is of utmost importance to achieve the global objective of limiting the rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
According to Tina Stege, the climate envoy for the Marshall Islands and chair of the High Ambition Coalition, which includes a diverse range of nations such as Barbados, France, Kenya, and Pacific island states, the target of 1.5 degrees Celsius is non-negotiable.
It necessitates the complete cessation of fossil fuel usage.
In a demonstration captured on video by the NGO 350.org, approximately seven activists stood in front of OPEC’s booth at the COP28 venue, displaying their palms with words like “phase out” written on them, emphasizing the need for a transition away from fossil fuels.
A revised agreement allows for the gradual reduction of fossil fuels but also allows for the possibility of omitting them entirely.
Saudi Arabia has been the most vocal opponent of reducing fossil fuel use. OPEC expressed concern about the pressure against fossil fuels, and Iraq supports this stance. The United Arab Emirates, as the host of COP28, acknowledges the inevitability of reducing fossil fuels.
The COP presidency is not influenced by the OPEC letter. The Arab group of nations is the only one strongly opposing a phase-out.
Canadian climate minister Steven Guilbeault is confident that the final text will address fossil fuels. Guilbeault is part of a group assigned to reach an agreement by the end of the summit.