The oil-and-gas industry must lead the fight against climate change, the president of this year’s United Nations climate talks says.
Addressing hundreds of oil-and-gas executives at the CERAWeek conference in Houston, Texas, on Monday, Sultan al-Jaber, said, “No one can be on the sidelines and this industry, in particular, is integral to developing the solutions.
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“In fact, this industry must take responsibility and lead the way,” al-Jaber, who is also the minister of industry of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and chief executive of its Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, said.
Climate activists have criticised the decision to hold the Conference of the Parties (COP28) in the UAE, a major oil producer, and also the choice of al-Jaber as the meeting’s president.
The oil-and-gas industry has been accused of delaying the climate and energy transition by working to preserve the extraction and consumption of fossil fuels.
However, al-Jaber called for leadership in the sector to lower its carbon footprint.
The oil-and-gas industry must “rapidly decarbonise its own operations … and has a vital role to play in decarbonising its customers”, al-Jaber said.
“The science is clear. We need to get fully behind net zero.”
The last UN climate talks in Egypt in November ended with a landmark deal to create a fund to cover the costs that developing countries face from climate-linked natural disasters.
But observers were left disappointed that little progress was made on reducing planet-heating carbon emissions from fossil fuels.
Al-Jaber, who has taken part in more than 10 COP meetings, headed the UAE’s delegation in Egypt. It was by far the biggest delegation to attend the talks, and one of the largest in COP history.
The UAE, one of the world’s biggest oil producers, argues that crude remains indispensable to the global economy and is needed to finance the energy transition.
The Gulf monarchy is pushing the merits of carbon capture – removing carbon dioxide as fuel is burned or from the atmosphere.
But the technology is in its infancy and many challenges lay ahead. The amount of greenhouse gasses captured must rocket to 800 million tonnes in 2030 from about 40 million tonnes today.
As much as $160bn needs to be invested in the technology by 2030, a 10-fold increase from the previous 10 years, according to the International Energy Agency.
Rising concentrations of atmospheric emissions are forcing up global temperatures and intensifying droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events, all while causing severe damage to ecosystems that underpin life on Earth.