(Bloomberg) -- Sultan Al Jaber, the United Arab Emirates official tapped to lead United Nations climate change talks, said “the phase-down of fossil fuels is inevitable,” marking his strongest statement yet on the future of coal, oil and gas in a warming world.
Yet Al Jaber, who also heads the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., didn’t suggest a timeframe for phasing down fossil fuels. Instead, he used a speech in Bonn, Germany, on Thursday to reiterate his call for the COP28 summit in November to propel other efforts, specifically tripling renewable energy, doubling energy efficiency and doubling “clean hydrogen” by 2030.
The speed of the fossil-fuel phase-down “depends on how quickly we can phase up zero-carbon alternatives while ensuring energy security, accessibility and affordability,” Al Jaber said, according to prepared remarks.
Al Jaber has faced calls from EU and US lawmakers for his ouster as the COP28 president-designate and to limit the influence of fossil-fuel companies at the climate summit starting November in Dubai. A major piece of unfinished business from the COP27 negotiations in Egypt last year was a push for countries to pledge to phase down all fossil fuels — not just unabated coal, a commitment already enshrined in the 2021 Glasgow pact.
Previously, Al Jaber has emphasized the need to focus on phasing out “fossil fuel emissions.”
The European Union is leading a push to set global targets for boosting renewables and energy efficiency as part of an effort to slash emissions. Al Jaber met with the bloc’s leaders in Brussels this week where the two sides committed to working together on transitioning “toward energy systems free of unabated fossil fuels.”
Al Jaber on Thursday vowed to “be laser-focused on concrete and ambitious solutions that will allow us to bridge the gaps by 2030,” noting there are just seven years to achieve 43% emission cuts needed to keep global temperature targets within reach.
“We need to shift from incremental steps to transformational progress that delivers for everyone, everywhere,” he told the crowd, which consisted of the heads of countries’ negotiating delegations.
--With assistance from Akshat Rathi.
(Updates with EU renewables push in sixth paragraph.)
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