World not ready yet to ‘switch off’ fossil fuels, COP28 host UAE says

WASHINGTON,- At the next U.N. climate change negotiations, which it will host in December, the United Arab Emirates stated on Tuesday that nations should agree to phase out fuel emissions rather than the production of oil, gas, and coal.

Ahead of the COP28 talks, the statements reflect the stark differences in opinion among nations regarding how to address global warming. While resource-rich nations have pushed for the continuation of drilling, certain wealthy Western governments and island nations that are suffering from climate change have been pressing for a phase-out of fossil fuels.

In an interview with Reuters, Mariam Almheiri, the UAE’s minister of climate change and the environment, stated that countries that depend on fossil fuels for their economy or that find it difficult to switch to renewable energy sources would suffer from the phase-out of these fuels.

She favoured deploying capture and storage technologies to gradually phase out fossil fuel emissions while boosting the use of renewable energy, arguing that this approach allows nations to combat global warming while maintaining their ability to produce oil, gas, and coal.

Almheiri stated this on the sidelines of the Agriculture Innovation Mission (AIM) for Climate conference in Washington. “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,” he added.

Because not all nations have the resources, she continued, “we are currently in a transition, and this transition needs to be just and practical.”

The AIM conference is being co-hosted by the UAE and the US.

Over 80 nations, including the EU and tiny island states, agreed to add language in the final resolution calling for the phase-down of all fossil fuels during the climate summit held in Egypt last year. Saudi Arabia and China, among other nations, pleaded with Egypt not to include that wording in the final draught.

The G7 nations decided to speed up the phase-out of their reliance on fossil fuels this month, though they did not specify a specific deadline.

Almheiri cited the UAE as an example of a country reducing the emissions intensity of its oil and gas activities by depending on innovative carbon capture technology and renewable energy sources.

By 2050, the UAE hopes to increase its present 25% share of renewable energy to 50%, which might be strengthened, according to the expert.

Along with energy, the world’s food supply will also receive significant attention during COP28 because it contributes to about a third of all emissions, according to Almheiri.

Technology and innovation, like electricity, can help with food security issues, according to Almheiri, who noted that it has helped the UAE, with its parched desert geography, come up with a food security policy.

She asserted that addressing the global food system’s inefficiencies can aid in simultaneously addressing issues like starvation, food waste, and climate change.

In addition to the energy debate, “we are making sure that the food systems dialogue is on centre stage at COP28,” she added.

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