Climate Summit Leader Dismisses Fossil Fuel Phase-out Science

Petter vieve

Climate Summit

The COP28 climate summit has been thrust into controversy following the remarks of its president, Sultan Al Jaber, asserting that there is “no science” supporting the need to phase out fossil fuels to limit global warming. This statement, made during the She Changes Climate panel event on November 21, has ignited concerns among climate scientists and advocates, who argue that swift action against fossil fuels is imperative to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Fossil Fuel Dilemma

At the heart of the current debate at COP28 is the future role of fossil fuels. While some nations advocate for a decisive “phase-out,” others favor a milder “phase-down” approach. Scientific evidence consistently highlights the urgency of reducing fossil fuel usage to meet the ambitious 1.5-degree target, a threshold crucial for avoiding severe ecological and societal consequences.

Al Jaber’s Controversial Assertion

Al Jaber’s contentious remarks challenge the widely accepted scientific consensus. He argued that there is no scientific scenario indicating that a complete phase-out of fossil fuels is necessary to achieve the 1.5-degree target. Emphasizing the need for a pragmatic approach, he stated that a phase-down and eventual phase-out are “inevitable,” but the discussion should be conducted with realism and seriousness, avoiding what he termed as “alarmist” rhetoric.

The Call for a Roadmap

During the panel discussion, Al Jaber requested Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and chair of the Elders Group, to provide a roadmap for a fossil fuel phase-out that ensures sustainable socio-economic development. The president expressed concern about regressing into a less developed state without viable alternatives.

The Controversial Presidency

Al Jaber’s dual role as the UAE’s climate envoy and the head of the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) adds complexity to his presidency of COP28. Critics argue that his connection to the fossil fuel industry may influence his stance on phasing out these very industries that contribute significantly to the climate crisis.

Rebuttal from COP28 Team

In response to the growing criticism, a spokesperson for the COP28 team defended Al Jaber’s position, dismissing the controversy as an attempt to undermine the summit’s agenda. The team reiterated their commitment to the inevitable phase-down and phase-out of fossil fuels, emphasizing the importance of keeping the 1.5-degree goal within reach.

Fossil Fuels and the Climate Crisis

Fossil fuels remain the primary driver of the ongoing climate crisis, contributing to record global heat and extreme weather events. A recent report, endorsed by scientific institutions including the UN Environment Programme, warns that fossil fuel production in 2030 is projected to exceed the limits necessary to stay below the 1.5-degree threshold.

The Role of IPCC and IEA

Critics of Al Jaber’s stance point to reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA), both considered authoritative sources of scientific information. The reports conclude that a phase-out of all fossil fuels is imperative, especially if carbon capture and storage measures fail to scale.

Backlash from Scientists and Advocates

Climate scientists and advocacy groups have strongly condemned Al Jaber’s assertions. Romain Ioualalen of Oil Change International labeled the comments as “alarming” and “science-denying,” expressing doubts about the COP28 presidency’s ability to lead climate talks. Other experts, such as Joeri Rogelj from Imperial College London, urged Al Jaber to revisit the latest IPCC report, emphasizing the consensus on the necessity of phasing out fossil fuels.

A Wake-Up Call for COP28

Mohamed Adow, director of the climate think tank Power Shift Africa, characterized Al Jaber’s remarks as a “wake-up call” for Climate Summit COP28 negotiators and the world. He cautioned that relying on the COP presidency for a robust outcome on fossil fuel phase-out may prove futile.


As Climate Summit COP28 enters its decisive phase, the debate over the role of fossil fuels continues to intensify. The controversy surrounding President Al Jaber’s comments highlights the challenges of achieving a consensus on one of the most critical issues in the fight against climate change. The world watches closely as nations assess their progress and strive to develop strategies that will steer the planet away from catastrophic global warming.

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