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The world’s biggest fossil fuel bosses deride efforts to move away from oil and gas

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The world's biggest fossil fuel bosses deride efforts to move away from oil and gas

The bosses of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies have scorned efforts to move away from fossil fuels, complaining that a “visibly failed” transition to clean energy was being advanced at an “unrealistic pace”.

Oil executives, gathered at the annual Cera Week conference in Houston, Texas, took turns this week denouncing calls for a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels, despite widespread recognition within the industry, as well as scientists and governments, of the need to radically reduce the planet’s heat emissions to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis.

“We should abandon the fantasy of phasing out oil and gas and invest adequately in it. » said Amin Nasser, CEO of Saudi Aramco, the world leader the biggest oil company, to the applause of the audience.

Nasser rejected International Energy Agency (IEA) projections that global demand for oil and gas will peak by 2030, saying rising energy costs mean people will have need the “importance of oil and gas security” rather than turning to renewable energy.

“In fact, in the real world, the current transition strategy is visibly failing on most fronts,” Nasser added, criticizing solar, wind and electric vehicles for what he sees as minimal impact in reducing emissions. of greenhouse gases.

“And, despite our leading role in global prosperity, our industry is presented as the sworn enemy of the transition,” lamented Nasser.

That skepticism was echoed by other top executives at the conference, which brings together industry executives and politicians from Texas’ oil heartland. Meg O’Neill, chief executive of Woodside Energy, said the transition to clean energy cannot “happen at an unrealistic pace”, predicting that the development of cleaner fuels could take up to 40 years.

“It’s gotten emotional,” O’Neill said of the climate debate. “And when things are emotional, it becomes harder to have a pragmatic conversation.”

“If we rush or if things go wrong, we will have a crisis that we will never forget,” warned Jean Paul Prates, chief executive of Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, about the shift to clean energy .

These comments were quickly denounced by climate activists.

Industry players “work night and day to torpedo the transition to renewable energy and then have the audacity to criticize the slow pace of the transition itself,” said Jeff Ordower, North American director of 350.org . “Cera Week should be highlighting a holistic vision of a clean and equitable future, and instead we’re getting talking points from the 1970s.”

“We should be skeptical of the solutions touted by industry, because it is clear that they have no real interest in ending the climate crisis,” Ordower added.

The conference on the “multidimensional, multi-speed and multi-fuel energy transition” as themetakes place against the backdrop of several major oil and gas companies reverse their plans to reduce production and water down greenhouse gas elimination targets, even as they make near-record profits.

Exxon Chief Executive Darren Woods, who recently said the public was unwilling to pay for a world with less carbon pollution, used Cera Week to discuss the prospects for carbon capture technologies. carbon and hydrogen, which the industry considers to be acceptable pathways. for government subsidies that do not threaten the core business model of oil and gas drilling.

Scientists are clear, however, that the world must reach net zero emissions by the middle of this century to avoid disastrous heat waves, droughts, floods and other climate-related impacts and, so far, no technology is able to improve the main task. not to burn more oil, gas and coal.

According to the IEAwho called the fossil fuel industry a “marginal force, at best,” in investing in the clean energy transition, oil and gas consumption is expected to decline by more than 75% by 2050 if the world wants to respect international agreements. objective of limiting global warming to 1.5°C beyond pre-industrial times.

That would require curbing an unprecedented boom in gas infrastructure along the U.S. Gulf Coast, which Joe Biden’s administration recently sought to curb by announcing a pause on new exports of liquefied natural gas from those facilities . However, at Cera Week, Jennifer Granholm, Biden’s energy secretary, said that the break will be “long in the rearview mirror” in a year.

In Houston, climate activists, including those who staged a mock funeral march outside the conference Tuesday to represent communities devastated by oil and gas development, said industry leaders had shown their true intentions during the gathering.

“If you look at their actions, it is clear that not only are they not committed to reducing emissions, but they actually came to Cera Week to continue to promote the production and extraction of fossil fuels and to delay the transition to a fair and clean energy future.” said Josh Eisenfeld, campaign director for corporate responsibility at Earthworks.

Aly Tharp, an activist with GreenFaith, said activists were deliberately prevented from registering to attend the event, leaving them to voice their objections outside the venue.

“I have a moral obligation to end the systematic poisoning of our planet caused by fossil fuels,” she said. “These harms must be seen and understood and must not be ignored. »

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