UAE and phasing out fossil fuel emissions - GulfToday

UAE and phasing out fossil fuel emissions


Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

In the runup to the COP28 climate meet in Dubai between November 30 and December 12, 2023, United Arab Emirates Minister of Climate Change and Environment Mariam Almheiri placed before the world the position that it would not be possible to phase out fossil fuels by 2030, and the more feasible goal is the phasing out of fossil fuel emissions through improved technology for capture and storage of carbon.

She said on the sidelines of a climate conference in Washington D.C.: “The renewable space is advancing and accelerating extremely fast, but we are nowhere near to be able to say that we can switch off fossil fuels and solely depend on clean and renewable energy.” She also made it clear that countries whose economies depend on export of fossil fuels cannot afford to close down the mining of oil and gas and their export because livelihoods are involved. She said, “We are now in a transition, and this transition needs to be just and pragmatic because not all countries have the resources.”

At a recent G7 finance ministers’ conference in Japan, the world’s most industrialised economies decided to phase out fossil fuels though they set no date. It is for the first time that the concerns of oil producing countries as well as those countries which do not have the finances to shift to a green energy system have come to the fore. The industrialised countries have the financial wherewithal to opt for the costlier renewable energy option, but even they would not be able to “switch off fossil fuels” any time soon. It remains an unrealistic goal, but in the last decade and more, the industrialised countries which had dragged their feet, especially the United States, are showing unwonted haste in wanting to move away from fossil fuels.

The UAE wants the carbon capture and storage technologies to be pressed into service and increase the use of renewable energy resources. But experts are of the view there is need for more investments in scaling up carbon capture technology. Meanwhile, Sultan Al Jaber, head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), who has been named President-designate of COP28, had said at a technical conference in Abu Dhabi: “If we are serious about curbing industrial emissions, we need to get serious about carbon capture technologies.”

He disclosed that he and his team in preparing for the COP28 summit had been talking and listening to different stakeholders including the advanced economies, the oil producing countries, the developing countries, civil society groups and businesses, and trying to evolve a comprehensive approach to the issue of phasing out fossil fuels. At the COP27 held in Egypt last year, about 80 countries had agreed to the phrase “phasing down” of fossil fuels but Saudi Arabia and China had prevailed on host Egypt not to include that in the final context. Al Jaber said, “What is missing is a holistic, unifying ecosystem that brings all the key players together.”

Minister Almheiri had also said that the COP28 will deal not just with the fossil fuels issue but also about the food ecosystem because one-third of the carbon emissions emanate from the agricultural sector. It would be difficult to cut down on food production to reduce carbon emissions. What will be needed is a more eco-friendly way of producing more food and that would require new technology.

Much attention has not been paid so far in the climate deliberations about agriculture and food production. There has been an exclusive focus on fossil fuels consumption in the industrial and transport sectors which drive economic growth in all the major economies of the world. Food production is the greater challenge in the task of cutting down carbon emissions.

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