FILE – Simon Stiell, U.N. climate chief, speaks during a closing plenary session at the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit on Nov. 20, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Stiell says phasing out all fossil fuels is central to curbing global warming. But in an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday, June 3, 2023, he also said the concept might not make it on agenda of “make-or-break” international climate negotiations this fall. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

By Seth Borenstein

The world needs to phase out fossil fuels if it wants to curb global warming, the United Nations climate chief said in an interview with The Associated Press. But he said the idea might not make it on to the agenda of “make-or-break” international climate negotiations this fall, run in and by an oil haven.

A phase out of heat-trapping fossil fuels “is something that is at top of every discussion or most discussions that are taking place,” U.N. climate Executive Secretary Simon Stiell said. “It is an issue that has global attention. How that translates into an agenda item and a (climate talks) outcome we will see.”

Stiell told AP he couldn’t quite promise it would get a spot on the agenda in climate talks, called COP28, in Dubai later this year.

That agenda decision is up to the president of the negotiations, Stiell said. He is the head of the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, Sultan al-Jaber.

The decision by host nation United Arab Emirates to make al-Jaber the head of the climate conference has drawn fierce opposition from lawmakers in Europe and the United States, as well as environmental advocates. UAE officials said they want game-changing results in the climate talks and note that al-Jaber also runs a large renewable energy company.

Last year at climate talks, a proposal by India to phase out all fossil fuels, supported by the United States and many European nations, never got on the agenda. What gets discussed is decided by the COP president, who last year was the foreign minister of Egypt, a natural gas exporting nation.

When asked if Egypt’s leaders kept the concept off the agenda, Stiell, speaking via Zoom from Bonn, Germany, where preliminary talks start Monday, said he couldn’t comment except to say that “it’s within their purview.”

An engineer-turned government official and diplomat, Stiell walked a fine line between talking about the importance of a fossil fuel phase out and supporting the U.N. process that has put countries that export oil and natural gas in charge of negotiations about global warming for two consecutive years.

About 94% of the heat-trapping carbon dioxide human industrial activity put in the air last year was from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, according to the scientists who monitor emissions at Global Carbon Project. Al-Jaber’s company has the capacity to produce 2 million barrels of oil and 7 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day and said it plans to increase that drilling to 5 million barrels a day by 2027.

Getting a fossil fuel phase out on the agenda this year depends on the conference president al-Jaber and on whether there is enough pressure from other nations, Stiell said.

“Where better to have a discussion … then in a region where fossil fuels is at the center of their economy?” Stiell asked.

But the issue of a coal, oil and natural gas phase out is so central to Stiell he brought it up four times in the half-hour interview Saturday. He said the real issue is getting something done, not putting it on the agenda.

In public appearances, al-Jaber has emphasized being “laser-focused on phasing out fossil fuel emissions,” not necessarily the fuels themselves, by promoting carbon capture and removal of the pollutant from the air.

Stiell dismissed the idea that carbon removal can be a short-term solution.

“Right now, in this critical decade of action to achieve those deep reductions, the science tells us it can only be achieved through the reduced use, significantly reduced use, of all fossil fuels,” Stiell said in the interview.

Stiell defended the back-to-back years of having climate negotiations run in and by fossil fuel-exporting nations as the wishes of the “parties” or countries involved.

This year will be critical because it is the first global stocktake to see where the world is in its efforts to reduce carbon emissions. To reach the Paris agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times, greenhouse gas pollution needs to be cut in half by 2030, he said.

“We know we are a long way from where we need to be,” Stiell said.

This year’s stocktake sets up a new round of pledges for even tighter emissions cuts by telling nations the stark truth of how bad the situation is, Stiell said. The problem hasn’t been nations knowing how bad it is, he said.

“It’s lack of implementation,” Stiell said. “I don’t believe it is the lack of knowledge. There’s been report after report after report that all say the same thing, all with increasing urgency.”

After less than a year on the job, but years as a national negotiator before that, Stiell said he has “gone beyond frustration. What drives me is a desire to make a difference.”

___

Frank Jordans contributed from Berlin.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2023. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

  • 0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
    0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
  • 0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
    0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
  • 0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
    0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
  • 0064 Estevan OTS
    0064 Estevan OTS
  • 0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
    0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
  • 0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
    0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
  • 0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
    0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
  • 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
    0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
  • 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
    0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
  • 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
    0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
  • 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
    0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
  • 0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
    0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
  • 0052 Predator Inspections
    0052 Predator Inspections
  • 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
    0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
  • 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
    0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
  • 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
    0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0015 Latus Viro
    0015 Latus Viro
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0002 gilliss casing services
    0002 gilliss casing services
  • 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
    9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
  • 9001

 

Quick Dick McDick: The Jack All

Conservative MP speaks of the glaciers that covered Canada, is mocked by Steven Guilbeault about “Shocking disregard for basic science”