At COP28, the head of OPEC asks members to refuse any agreement targeting fossil fuels

The Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) “urgently” asked its members to “proactively reject” any agreement targeting fossil fuels in climate negotiations at the Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai, in a letter consulted on Friday December 8 by Agence France-Presse (AFP)

At COP28, the head of OPEC asks members to refuse any agreement targeting fossil fuels

The Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) “urgently” asked its members to “proactively reject” any agreement targeting fossil fuels in climate negotiations at the Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai, in a letter consulted on Friday December 8 by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“It appears that the 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,” says the Secretary General of the organization, Haitham Al-Ghais, saying it writes “with a sense of extreme urgency.”

“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,” the letter 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.”

The Spanish Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, denounced on Saturday December 9 the “repugnant” position of OPEC. “I think it’s a pretty disgusting thing for OPEC countries to object to us setting the bar where it needs to be” on climate, she said in Dubai .

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

“I am stunned by these statements from OPEC, and I am angry,” French Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher said in Dubai. “Fossil fuels are responsible for more than 75% of CO2 emissions. (…) 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 statement published on Saturday, the non-governmental organization Greepeace said it was “outraged”: “We urge [OPEC] to adhere to the objective set by the presidency of COP28 (…) and to work together to make this summit a historic milestone. »

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

COP28 is entering its home stretch with the return of ministers from Saturday to try to unblock the negotiations. At the heart of these is the question of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas), the main causes of global warming.