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UAE’s Jaber says oil, industrial firms to commit to decarbonization at COP28

More than 20 firms across the oil and gas sector and heavy industry have agreed to commit to curb emissions at the UN’s COP28 climate summit, with more expected to join the group before the conference, its president said.

COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber said more than 60 top executives from the oil and gas, cement, aluminium and other heavy industries had held talks in Abu Dhabi to agree on a firm commitment to cut carbon emissions ahead of the United Nations climate summit next month.

Jaber did not disclose further details of the measures that had been agreed or identify the executives, but said those who had signed up would be named upon completion of the commitment, which he said would be transparent and measurable.

“I will launch my programme at COP, and those who want to be seen as a responsible, reliable and committed energy player… this is the day that they need to judge: which camp do you want to be in?” Jaber told Reuters in an interview.

The COP28 summit is scheduled to take place in Dubai between Nov. 30 and Dec. 12. Jaber, who is also the boss of state oil firm ADNOC, was a controversial pick to lead the summit because his country is an OPEC member and a major oil exporter.

He has called for the summit to bring together all stakeholders, including in the fossil fuel industry. The inclusion of oil and gas representatives is a far cry from the 2021 U.N. climate change summit in Scotland, where energy companies complained they were shut out of the event.

European and small island countries have raised concerns ahead of COP28 that some oil and gas producing countries want to focus on expanding technologies to capture CO2 emissions, rather than curbing the use of fossil fuels directly.

Jaber brushed off the idea that such technologies were a loophole to continue burning fossil fuels, saying scientists had confirmed the need to expand these technologies to meet climate goals.

“It’s not me who is saying this, it is the scientists and responsible intergovernmental agencies… and also the facts on the ground,” he said.

“Are we after decarbonization, or are we after some ideological idea against oil and gas? We are after emissions, so let’s stay focused on that, that is our enemy; let’s fight that, let’s not fight an industry that has helped shape the world we are all in today.”

Jaber, who has worked closely with both U.S. climate envoy John Kerry and Chinese climate envoy Xie Zhenua, said he was optimistic both countries would have positive participation at COP28.

Climate diplomacy between the world’s two biggest carbon dioxide emitters was suspended in August last year, but in July Kerry and his counterpart Xie restarted the conversation when they met in Beijing.

Jaber also said a fund that countries agreed to launch at last year’s climate summit in Egypt to help poor countries deal with the irreversible damage caused by climate disasters must be put into operation during COP28.

Countries are split over how to design the fund, with some nations arguing it should only be for the most vulnerable countries, while others say all developing nations should have access to the cash.

Jaber denied media reports that the UAE would also host next year’s COP29 in light of disagreements over the coming host.

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