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Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

OPEC Defends Fuels at UN Climate Conference


Thu 11 Nov 2021 | 03:09 AM
Taarek Refaat

Before the United Nations climate conference COP26 in Glasgow, representatives of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) defended on Wednesday the future role of fossil fuels, saying the world could reduce greenhouse gas emissions without cutting off oil and gas entirely.

Those defenses contrasted with efforts by Britain, which is hosting the summit, to obtain ambitious pledges from world governments to address climate change by reducing fossil fuel consumption, with negotiations entering their final days.

In a speech to the conference, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud said, "It is important to acknowledge the multiplicity of solutions to address the problem of climate change by focusing on emissions as mentioned in the Paris Agreement, and without bias towards one source of energy over the other."

“Saying that the energy transition is from oil and other fossil fuels to renewables is misleading,” said OPEC Secretary-General Muhammad Barkindo, from Nigeria.

Advocates of oil, gas and coal have long argued that technologies such as carbon sequestration, in which emissions are collected and stored underground, can allow economies to continue using fossil fuels.

Climate activists reject this, saying that this technology is too expensive and has not been proven effective on a large scale, providing only a cover for polluting industries to continue operating.

Prince Abdulaziz told the participating delegations that negotiators must take into account the “special circumstances faced by the least developed countries,” some of which oppose calls to take broad steps towards moving away from fossil fuels because of the economic cost of doing so.

Speaking to Reuters later on Wednesday, Barkindo reiterated this point, saying he believed a rapid transition from oil and gas was impractical and likely to harm poor countries and the global economy.

"Until this moment, I have not heard from any rational source whether we have concrete plans and a roadmap to replace oil and gas in the global energy mix," he said, noting that oil and gas represent more than half of the world's consumption of energy sources.

"If you stop using oil and gas today, you give up nearly 53% of the global energy mix," he added, predicting that this would result in "price rises in the gas markets, rises in the electricity markets, and rises in the coal markets."

He added that technology can help the world continue to use oil and gas by addressing the emissions from burning them.

"We always forget that the challenge we face is how to tackle greenhouse gas emissions," he said. Those emissions can be addressed through a variety of means, not only through political decisions, but also through technology.”

In response to a question about the technology he was referring to, he said, "Many, many technologies are under development, and some are under testing."