As the UN negotiations known as COP28 approaches in Dubai in December, there are deep divisions among countries about how to deal with the growing global warming crisis. Ahead of the talks, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has argued that countries need to agree to phase out fuel emissions but not oil, gas, and coal production. According to UAE’s Minister of Climate Change and Environment Mariam Al-Muhiri, phasing out fossil fuels would mean either relying on fossil fuels for revenue or simply replacing hydrocarbons with renewable energy sources, which could hit countries that cannot.
Al-Muhiri has advocated using capture and storage technologies to phase out fossil fuel emissions while increasing renewable energy, a strategy that would allow countries to continue producing oil, gas, and coal while fighting global warming. However, not all experts agree that capture technology is reliable on a large scale and may require large investments at the expense of cheaper alternatives such as solar and wind.
Last year, at the United Nations Climate Summit in Egypt, more than 80 countries agreed on the language calling for a “phasing out” of all fossil fuels. However, some countries, including Saudi Arabia and China, opposed the inclusion of this language in the final document.
Recently, the G7 countries agreed to accelerate the phase-out of fossil fuel consumption without specifying a timeline. Sultan Al Jaber, who heads Abu Dhabi’s national oil company and oversees renewable energy efforts, will preside over UN climate talks as COP28 president. His appointment has sparked fierce criticism from environmental activists.
Despite the controversy, Al Jaber has advocated for a more holistic approach to tackling climate change that includes the fossil fuel industry. He suggests that a comprehensive, unified ecosystem is needed to combat climate change. According to the IPCC, global warming has led to extreme weather events that have displaced millions of people, with the world’s poor being hit hardest. The IPCC warns that more people die each year from heatwaves, floods, disease, and hunger caused by global warming.