The UAE Holds an Annual Oil and Gas Conference Just Ahead of Hosting UN COP28 Climate Talks in Dubai

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Emirati president-designate of the upcoming United Nations COP28 climate talks called on oil and gas companies on Monday to be “central to the solution” to fighting climate change, even as the industry boosts its production to enjoy rising global energy prices.

The call by Sultan al-Jaber highlights the gap between climate activists suspicious of his industry ties and his calls to drastically slash the world’s emissions by nearly half in seven years to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with pre-industrial times.

“That is our North Star. It is in fact our only destination,” al-Jaber said. “It is simply acknowledging and respecting the science.”

However, he added: “We must do this while also ensuring human prosperity by meeting the energy needs of the planet’s growing population.”

Al-Jaber serves as the CEO of the state-run Abu Dhabi Oil Co., which has the capacity to pump 4 million barrels of crude oil a day and hopes to reach 5 million barrels a day. He also made the call to the annual Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, which brings together the largest players in the oil and gas industries.

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While this year’s conference has been described as focusing on “decarbonizing faster together,” the event is primarily about the drilling, processing and sale of the same carbon-belching fuels driving climate change — which cause more-intense and more-frequent extreme events such as storms, droughts, floods and wildfires. And al-Jaber himself has repeatedly said the world must rely on oil and gas for the near-term to bridge that gap.

“A phase-down of fossil fuels is inevitable and essential,” al-Jaber said. “Yet, this must be part of a comprehensive energy transition plan that is fair, that is fast, just, orderly, equitable and responsible.”

“For too long, this industry has been viewed as part of the problem, that it’s not doing enough and in some cases even blocking progress,” al-Jaber told the conference. “This is your opportunity to show the world that, in fact, you are central to the solution.”

Following immediately after al-Jaber, OPEC Secretary-General Haitham al-Ghais praised his speech and defended the oil industry.

“We see calls to stop investing in oil. We believe this is counterproductive,” al-Ghais said. “The cornerstone of global economic prosperity is energy security.”

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