DUBAI: COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber, who is also head of UAE national oil company ADNOC, insisted that he respects climate research after he came under fire over a leaked video in which he questioned the science on fossil fuels.

“We’re here because we very much believe and respect the science,” Jaber told a press conference on Monday.

The Guardian had published a video on Sunday showing Jaber having a testy exchange with former Irish president Mary Robinson during an online forum.

“I’m not in any way signing up to a discussion that is alarmist,” Jaber told the SHE Changes Climate online conference on November 21. “I am factual and I respect the science, and there is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says that the phase-out of fossil fuels is what’s going to achieve 1.5 (degrees).”

The video sparked an outcry among NGOs, which were already outraged by the appointment of an oil company boss to head the crucial climate negotiations.

On Monday, he claimed that he has said “over and over that the phase down and the phase out of fossil fuel is inevitable”. Although he also said it in the video, Jaber had previously only talked publicly of the inevitability of a “phase-down” — a weaker term as it implies that fossil fuels would not completely go away.

Showing how touchy the issue has become, Jim Skea, the head of the UN body tasked with assessing climate science, appeared alongside him to face reporters on Monday. Jaber said global greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by 43 per cent by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2023

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