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‘Rapidly decarbonise’: Energy industry must lead climate fight

The UAE’s COP president says the oil and gas industry must take the lead in the fight against global warming.

The oil and gas industry must lead the fight against climate change, says the chair of this year’s United Nations climate talks.

Speaking to hundreds of oil and gas executives on Monday at the CERAWeek conference in Houston, Texas, Sultan al-Jaber said: “No one can stand on the sidelines and this industry in particular is integral to the development of the solutions.

“Basically, this industry needs to take responsibility and lead the way,” said al-Jaber, who is also the United Arab Emirates (UAE) industry minister and CEO of his Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

Climate activists have criticized the decision to hold the Conference of the Parties (COP28) in the UAE, a major oil producer, and also the choice of al-Jaber to chair the meeting.

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 industry leadership to reduce its carbon footprint.

The oil and gas industry needs to “quickly decarbonise its own operations … and plays a critical role in decarbonising its customers,” al-Jaber said.

“The science is clear. We need to fully get behind net zero.”

Carbon absorption

The latest UN climate talks in Egypt in November ended with a groundbreaking agreement to establish a fund to cover the costs facing developing countries as a result of climate-related natural disasters.

But observers were disappointed that little progress had been made in reducing the carbon emissions from fossil fuels that warm the planet.

Al-Jaber, who has participated in more than 10 COP meetings, led the UAE delegation to Egypt. It was by far the largest delegation to attend the talks, and one of the largest in COP history.

The UAE, one of the world’s largest oil producers, argues that crude oil 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 still in its infancy and many challenges lie ahead. The amount of captured greenhouse gases must shoot up from about 40 million tons now to 800 million tons in 2030.

According to the International Energy Agency, a whopping $160 billion must be invested in the technology by 2030, a tenfold increase over the previous 10 years.

Rising concentrations of atmospheric emissions are driving up global temperatures and intensifying droughts, floods and other extreme weather events, while at the same time severely damaging ecosystems that support life on Earth.