Climate Talks Chief, Who Also Heads Oil Company, Says World Must ‘Attack All Emissions, Everywhere’

A man rows a boat down a residential street
FILE – A man rows a boat down a residential street after flooding in Angleur, Province of Liege, Belgium, July 16, 2021. The head of this year’s United Nations’ climate talks called Thursday, July 13, 2023, for governments and businesses to tackle global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in all regions and sectors if they want to stop the planet from passing a key temperature limit agreed more than seven years ago. (AP Photo/Valentin Bianchi, File)

By FRANK JORDANS Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) — The head of this year’s United Nations climate talks called Thursday for governments and
businesses to tackle global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in all regions and sectors if
they want to stop the planet from passing a key temperature limit agreed on more than seven years ago.

Sultan al-Jaber of the United Arab Emirates, who also heads one of the country’s state oil companies,
told senior officials from Europe, Canada and China gathered in Brussels that record-breaking heat seen
across the world recently shows the need for urgent action to curb emissions.

Laying out his strategy for the upcoming COP28 global climate talks in Dubai this fall, al-Jaber said
that leaders “must be brutally honest” about what has caused the sharp rise in temperatures since pre-
industrial times and how to stop them from climbing further.

While many fossil fuel companies have pledged to reduce direct and indirect emissions from their
operations — known as scope 1 and 2 — many have refused to take responsibility for so-called scope 3

emissions resulting from sources they don’t own or control, such as consumers using their gas. The
latter make up the majority of emissions, and cutting those effectively means reducing demand for
fossil fuels.

“We need to attack all emissions, everywhere: (scope) one, two and three,” al-Jaber said, adding that
he plans to bring together governments, major energy producers and heavy emitting industries to develop
a practical plan for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) in line with the
2015 Paris climate accord.

Scientists say achieving this target requires halving global emissions by 2030 and current efforts are
far off track.

Al-Jaber urged governments to come forward with more ambitious national targets for cutting emissions
in the next few months. He also named two veteran officials from South Africa and Denmark to lead
negotiations on the first global stocktake of where the world stands in meeting the Paris goals.

Climate campaigners cautiously welcomed the plan.

“This is a much-needed kick up the backside from Sultan al-Jaber, to get counties to upgrade their
climate targets by September,” said Illari Noriega of the anti-poverty group Christian Aid.

“The climate is showing that we need to be acting far far quicker than the current slow progress,” she
said. “People are dying due to terrible drought in East Africa, more than 100 million people are now
under a heat warning in the United States and a road worker in Italy became the latest fatality of a
lethal heat wave across Europe this week.”

But some expressed concern at al-Jaber’s call to phase down “unabated fossil fuels” and promote “clean
energy solutions” — terms they fear are designed to leave loopholes for oil and gas companies to keep
up production.

Al-Jaber said the world must “use every emission-busting tool available, including nuclear, battery
storage and carbon capture and removal technologies, especially for the hardest-to-abate sectors.”
Experts have expressed skepticism that carbon capture technology touted by the fossil fuel industry and
some governments can deliver the swift reductions necessary to meet the Paris goal.

“What we need to see at COP28 is a commitment by governments to phasing out all fossil fuels, since
that is the only way to keep the 1.5 degree target alive,” said Petter Lydén of the campaign group

Al-Jaber reiterated calls for a sharp increase in renewable energy production and money to help
developing countries make the transition away from polluting fuels and cope with the impacts of climate

The European Union’s top climate official, Frans Timmermans, warned that more public and private funds
are still being spent on fossil fuels than on preventing and adapting to climate change.

“We are subsidizing an attack on all of humanity,” he said. “We’re investing in a worse future, not a
better one. We’re paying to put our children and grandchildren in harm’s way.”

Timmermans warned that with global warming picking up faster than feared, disrupting weather patterns
across the planet and hitting the vulnerable hardest, governments need to show they have a credible
plan to tackle the crisis.

“The one thing we need to avoid, and we’re very close, we’re very close, is that our citizens fall into
despair about the climate crisis,” he said.

Timmermans announced Thursday that the EU will commemorate the victims of the climate crisis each year
on July 15, the anniversary of a deadly flood that claimed more than 200 lives in Germany, Belgium and
the Netherlands two years ago.

AP, Climate Change, Environment, News, UN
AP, Environment, News