OPEC sparks outrage at COP28 by asking its members to refuse any agreement involving fossil fuels

The Kuwaiti Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Haitham Al-Ghais, once again expressed, on Saturday December 9, at the COP28, his opposition to any specific questioning of fossil fuels in the final declaration.

“The Paris agreement talks about reducing emissions, rather than choosing certain energy sources (…) There is no single solution or path to lead the way to a sustainable energy future”did he declare.

The conference, which is taking place in Dubai, has entered its home stretch, with the return of ministers, to try to unblock the negotiations. At the heart of the issues is the question of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas), the main culprits of global warming, and the terms in which they will be mentioned in the final agreement.

In this context, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has sparked ” anger “ of several ministers on Saturday, when his secretary general asked ” emergency “ to its members “proactively reject” any agreement targeting fossil fuels, in a letter consulted on Friday December 8 by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“It appears that excessive and disproportionate pressure on fossil fuels could reach a tipping point with irreversible consequences, as the draft decision still contains provisions on the phasing out of fossil fuels”affirms Haitham Al-Ghais, in this letter which he says he wrote “with a sense of extreme urgency”.

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“Although member countries” and their associates “take climate change seriously (…)it would be unacceptable for politically motivated campaigns to endanger the prosperity and future of our people”he continues.

The letter is addressed to the thirteen members of OPEC, including the United Arab Emirates, which chairs this year’s United Nations climate conference, as well as to Saudi Arabia, on the front line to oppose the exit of energy fossils. The missive was also sent to the ten countries associated with the organization, such as Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Mexico and Russia, all represented in Dubai.

“A disgusting thing”

Spanish Minister of Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, during a press conference at COP28, in Dubai, December 6, 2023.

The Spanish Minister of Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, denounced the position “disgusting” of OPEC. “I think it’s a pretty disgusting thing for the OPEC countries to object to putting the bar where it needs to be.” on the climate, she declared in Dubai.

“The European Union will align itself with (…) a large majority of parties to this conference to ensure that [soit obtenu] a significant and productive result on the exit from fossil fuels, the energy transition, while ensuring access to energy for all”affirmed in front of several journalists Mme Ribera, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union.


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“I am stunned by these statements from OPEC, and I am angry”declared the French Minister of Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, in Dubai. “Fossil fuels are responsible for more than 75% of CO emissions2. (…) We have to get out of it if we want to limit global warming to +1.5°C, she recalled. OPEC’s position endangers the most vulnerable countries and the poorest populations, who are the first victims of this situation. »

In a press release published on Saturdaythe non-governmental organization Greenpeace said “outraged” : “We urge [à l’OPEP] to adhere to the objective set by the presidency of COP28 (…) and to work together to make this summit a historic milestone. »

“OPEC’s reaction shows that they are afraid of the growing calls for an exit from fossil fuels and an energy transitioncommented Helena Spiritus, from WWF. There is now a real possibility that COP28 will send the signal of the beginning of the end of the age of fossils. »

Canada’s environment minister, who plays a crucial role in the discussions, said he “fairly confident”Saturday, in having a mention of fossil fuels in the final text. “We are moving towards reducing dependence on fossil fuels, he assures. As countries across the planet electrify their transportation, their power grids, their industries, dependence on fossil fuels will decrease. »

Azerbaijan, a country heavily dependent on hydrocarbons, has also indicated that it should host COP29. “I am pleased to announce that there is a general consensus around Azerbaijan’s candidacy (…) »declared Azerbaijani Minister of Ecology Mukhtar Babaev.

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The World with AFP

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