COP28: Opec opposition to fossil fuel deal met with outrage

World Saturday 09/December/2023 18:20 PM
By: Times News Service
COP28: Opec opposition to fossil fuel deal met with outrage

Dubai: Leaders from Germany, Spain and France reacted angrily on Saturday after the oil cartel OPEC called on its members to oppose any fossil fuels deal at COP28 — the United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in Dubai.

Opec Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais sent a letter to the group's 13 members and 10 Russian-led allies earlier this week after negotiators at COP28 released a draft pledge that included calls for a phase-out of fossil fuels.

In the letter, Ghais urged the group to "proactively reject any text or formula that targets energy i.e. fossil fuels rather than emissions."
Baerbock: 'Power politics' thwarting progress

Germany's climate envoy, Jennifer Morgan, suggested any call for blocking a fossil fuels deal would hurt smaller countries, vulnerable to sea level rises caused by global warming.

"Right now, countries here are fighting for their lives. The small islands, and most countries here, are engaging very actively on this discussion in a real way," she said. "And I think it is obviously not responsible to have a position that could mean would mean the life and death of many million people."

"When I listen to the small islands who are in my ear and in my heart, and then I hear about this OPEC letter, I'm deeply concerned about it," she added. "We're seeing very worrying tactics by the Arab groups here."

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that countries that rely heavily on oil and gas remain resistant to major efforts to combat climate change.

Baerbock said the struggle is about seeking a "way out of the fossil fuel world," in remarks on Saturday in Dubai.

"This is anything but easy," Germany's top diplomat said, as there are still nations that favor geopolitical importance and "power politics" over the use of fossil fuels.

Baerbock said that her focus would be on those countries that have gained wealth from fossil fuels.

Opec's opposition to any fossil fuel phase-out deal drew a furious response on Saturday from French Energy Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher and Spanish Ecological Transition Minister Teresa Ribera.

"I am stunned by these statements from OPEC. And I am angry," Pannier-Runacher said from the climate conference, adding that "OPEC's position endangers the most vulnerable countries and the poorest populations who are the first victims of this situation."

Pannier-Runacher said she was "counting on the presidency of the COP not to be influenced by these declarations, and to reach an agreement which affirms a clear objective of phasing out fossil fuels."

Meanwhile, Spain's Ribera told reporters: "I think that it is quite, quite a disgusting thing that OPEC countries are pushing against getting the bar where it has to be."

"We need to be quite clear, bold, crystal clear that the European Union will be aligning with... a large majority of the parties in this conference to ensure that we have (a) meaningful and productive outcome connected to this phase-out of fossil fuels," she said.

COP28 Director General Majid al-Suwaidi downplayed the OPEC letter, saying the UAE team running the UN summit has been meeting with negotiators to get an ambitious deal.

"I feel confident that we're going to get a good result you're going to be surprised about," Suwaidi told The Associated Press.

Saturday's angry response to Opec from France and Spain came as protests at the conference centre in Dubai were set to intensify, with a "Global Day of Action" urging countries to act more decisively over climate change issues.