Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the president of this year’s United Nations (UN) climate summit, said that there is “no science” behind calls to eliminate fossil fuels to counter global warming, according to The Guardian.
Al Jaber also said that getting rid of fossil fuels would not allow for sustainable economic growth “unless you want to take the world back into caves,” according to The Guardian. He made the remarks during an exchange with Mary Robinson, the chair of the Elders group and a former UN special envoy for climate change, during a virtual event held on Nov. 21.
“There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5,” Al Jaber told Robinson, referencing the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold for increase in global average temperatures that many scientists and activists point to as critical to stay below, according to The Guardian.
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“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,” Al Jaber told Robinson, according to The Guardian.
Al Jaber’s comments drew the ire of other UN officials, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and climate activists, who advocate for a much stronger international effort to abandon fossil fuels and switch the world’s economy to relying on green energy generation, according to The Guardian.
Al Jaber’s presidency has also generated other controversies, as he runs the Emirati state-owned renewable firm and the state-owned oil and gas giant. Leaked documents showed that Emirati officials planned to use COP28-related meetings to discuss potential business dealings related to the two firms with foreign officials, and separate documents revealed how the companies viewed Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry as a key player in efforts to secure their future financial success.
Despite Al Jaber’s comments and the appearances of potential conflicts of interest, the conference he is overseeing has resulted in several major developments. For example, several of the world’s developed countries, including the U.S., pledged hundreds of millions of dollars combined to a de facto international “climate reparations” fund, and American officials approved a new set of methane emissions regulations that could severely impact the domestic oil and gas industry.
The UN did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
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