Sultan al-Jaber, the Emirati official presiding over this year’s climate summit, is the head of UAE’s national oil company.
“We must be laser focused on phasing out fossil fuel emissions, while phasing up viable, affordable zero carbon alternatives,” Mr. al-Jaber said at this month’s Bonn Climate Conference, which is held each year in the lead-up to the official COP in the late fall. al- Jabar also called for a tripling of global renewable energy capacity by the end of this decade and said the world was “way off track” in meeting its emissions reduction pledges.
He did not distinguish, however, between the complete phasing out of fossil fuels and their emissions, leaving the door open to carbon capture and storage policies which are met with mistrust by climate advocates and many scientists.
Oil producing countries have focused on developing technology to capture burned carbon as opposed to burning less carbon. Since the pandemic, oil and gas projects have been roaring back, with production accelerating in the US and Saudi Arabia and exploration underway in Guyana and Uganda.
Last year’s countries could not agree on the inclusion of “phase out” fossil fuels for the negotiating document released after COP27 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.
CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE PROBLEMS
“Subsurface CO2 storage is an amalgamation of probabilities and risks, some of which can be identified, others remaining unknown until troubles materialise. These risks – and the costs that accompany them – are not being made part of public discourse by either industry or government.”
One of the problems of injecting burned and compressed carbon into the ground is the inability to anticipate changing geographics, according to an article Problems at two CCS “success stories” cast fresh doubt on the technology. Two Norweigan projects are now encountering problems: Carbon has migrated upwards at one site; at the other, the time for storage capacity has shrunk from 18 years to less than two.
Subsurface conditions which exist at a given point on the Earth are specific to that place; even then, any information obtained about that place is only a snapshot in time. The Earth moves and strata can change.
“While the oil and gas industry is used to dealing with uncertainty in exploration and production, the risks multiply when trying to place something like CO2 back in the ground.”
FOSSIL FUEL LOBBYISTS @COP28 MUST REVEAL INDUSTRY TIES
After 600 coal and oil lobbyists attended COP27, at this year’s climate talks participants will be required to disclose their connections to the industry.
“From now onwards, every single badged participant attending the event will be required to list their affiliation and relationship to that organisation,” said UN climate chief Simon Stiell, speaking at the closing of the meeting in Bonn.
“As long as UN climate talks have existed, the fossil fuel industry lobbyists have been flooding these talks seeking a seat at the table where the rules of climate action are written,” said Rachel Rose Jackson from Corporate Accountability.
“It’s actually no small thing that for the first time ever, all participants will have to be honest to the world about who they are.”
The UAE strategy, however, is to welcome gas and oil companies to participate in the upcoming talks to slow down global heating.
In an interview, Majid al-Suwaidi, an Emirati diplomat who will also play a major role at the climate talks, known by the acronym COP28, said, “We need to engage the people who have the technical know-how, the skills, the technology — and, by the way, the people who provide jobs — in a conversation about how they transform.”
To activists who have attended these conferences for years, that notion sounds far-fetched. “It’s just like how tobacco lobbyists need to be kept out of conversations about cancer prevention,” said Catherine Abreu, who heads Destination Zero, a network of nonprofits working on climate issues.