Status: 05.12.2023, 15:41 PM
By: Sonja Ruf
The president of COP28, Sultan Al-Jaber, was both belligerent and appeasing on the podium on Monday. © Imago/Zuma Wire
A statement by the president of the climate conference meets the accusation of science denial. He feels misunderstood and gets support.
Dubai – Five days of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai have passed. Now the meeting of the 197 states has been overshadowed by an accusation against Sultan Al-Jaber, the president of COP28. Specifically, it refers to a recording from an event in November, in which Sultan Al-Jaber said the following sentence: "There is no science and no scenario that says that 1.5 degrees can be achieved by phasing out the use of fossil fuels."
Five days of the World Climate Conference in Dubai have already passed
Climate researchers had clearly criticized Al-Jaber after the quote became known and accused him of denying scientific findings on global warming. Fridays for Future also criticized Al-Jaber in a post on social networks, emphasizing that every word will count individually in the final text of the World Climate Conference. The terms "full fossil-fuel phase-out" or "phase-down" carry an "earth-shattering weight" here. Statements like Al-Jaber's with regard to the envisaged global phase-out of fossil fuels do not help anyone.
Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, commented in an interview with the FAZ with regard to Al-Jaber's statement: "The statement is scientifically false, but I wouldn't put it too high yet. I already perceive the hosts as wanting to make progress in shutting down fossil fuels." His colleague Johan Rockström was able to present ten new findings from climate science at COP28. Al-Jaber said on Monday that he was "surprised by the ongoing attempts to portray him as a science denier." He assured that he had been misunderstood. Ultimately, the goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050 must take precedence over everything.
Al-Jaber feels misunderstood, climate activists are conciliatory
Al-Jaber said: "I have said again and again that the shutdown and phase-out of fossil fuels are inevitable, even essential," the Sultan explained. "Just like the transformation, it has to be orderly, fair, just and responsible – and well organized." In the run-up to COP28, there had already been criticism of the appointment of Al-Jaber, who is also the chairman of the state-owned oil company ADNOC. In addition, the BBC and the Centre for Climate Reporting previously reported that Al-Jaber was reportedly preparing to negotiate with China for LNG supplies from Mozambique, Canada and Australia.
Positive interim results of COP28 so far
The chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Jim Skea, said on Monday that the 1.5-degree target would only be achievable if the use of fossil fuels fell significantly. Coal should no longer be used at all by 2050 without mechanisms for CO₂ storage, and oil and gas consumption must fall drastically – and immediately. Skea emphasized that he had spoken to Al-Jaber about these figures in several conversations and that Al-Jaber had assured him of his understanding in this regard.
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In addition to the turbulence surrounding him, Al-Jaber drew a positive interim balance of COP28 on Monday, even though global emissions of climate-damaging CO₂ emissions from fossil fuels such as coal and gas will reach a record high this year. He said: "There is an opportunity to achieve a really tangible paradigm shift and course correction that puts us on the right track to keep the 1.5 degree target within reach." Al-Jaber emphasized that COP28 has already shown that there is confidence and a lot of impetus for the fight against climate change in the world.