Cop28 president says there is ‘no science’ behind Pope Francis’s demands for phase-out of fossil fuels

Cop28 president says there is ‘no science’ behind Pope Francis’s demands for phase-out of fossil fuels
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UAE’s Sultan Al Jaber says phase-out of coal, oil and gas would take world ‘back into caves.’

The president of Cop28, Sultan Al Jaber, has claimed there is “no science” indicating that a phase-out of fossil fuels is needed to restrict global heating to 1.5C, the Guardian and the Centre for Climate Reporting can reveal.

Al Jaber also said a phase-out of fossil fuels would not allow sustainable development “unless you want to take the world back into caves”.

The comments were “incredibly concerning” and “verging on climate denial”, scientists said, and they were at odds with the position of the UN secretary general, António Guterres.

Al Jaber made the comments in ill-tempered responses to questions from Mary Robinson, the chair of the Elders group and a former UN special envoy for climate change, during a live online event on 21 November. As well as running Cop28 in Dubai, Al Jaber is also the chief executive of the United Arab Emirates’ state oil company, Adnoc, which many observers see as a serious conflict of interest.

China’s special envoy for climate change, Xie Zhenhua, told ambassadors attending the 9th China and Globalization Forum in Beijing late September that “it is unrealistic to completely phase-out fossil fuel energy.” He said oil, gas, and coal will continue to play a crucial role in global energy supply and in maintaining energy security. Xie Zhenhua will be representing China at the COP28 summit. He has overseen environmental protection, resource conservation, energy saving and pollution reductions and climate change affairs in China. Despite the massive increase in renewable energy capacity, way ahead of any country in the world, continued growth in energy demand means that China needs to rely on increasing all forms of energy, including coal, oil and gas. In 2022, China accounted for almost one-third of global renewable power generation and close…

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