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Saudi energy minister won't agree to fossil fuel phase-down

Bloomberg
Bloomberg • 3 min read
Saudi energy minister won't agree to fossil fuel phase-down
Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman called out countries pushing for a phase-out of fossil fuel for hypocrisy, saying that if they believed in it they should just get on with it. Photo: Bloomberg
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Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman says the kingdom will not agree to a text that calls for the phase-down of fossil fuels at the COP28 summit in Dubai. 

“Absolutely not,” he said when asked in a TV interview in Riyadh whether his country, the world’s top oil exporter, would be happy to see the language added. 

An agreement to call for a fossil fuel phase-out or phase-down is a key demand of many countries at COP28 including the US and EU. The text must be agreed unanimously.

Talks are due to run until Dec 12 and negotiators have been looking at other formulations — such as limiting the shift to “unabated” fossil fuels or tying it to a just transition. Abdulaziz, who is the half-brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, did not say whether such a fudge would be acceptable to Saudi Arabia.

He called out countries pushing for a phase-out of fossil fuel for hypocrisy, saying that if they believed in it they should just get on with it. 

“I’m not naming names,” he said. “But those countries who really believe on phasing out and phasing down hydrocarbons, you should come out and put together a plan for how in starting 1st of January 2024.”

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The issue was given added weight yesterday when a video call was released showing COP28 President Sultan Al-Jaber saying there was no scientific basis to saying a phase-down is necessary to reach climate goals. Although he was arguing there were other routes to reducing emissions, his words were condemned by many climate campaigners. 

Al-Jaber’s presidency has been viewed with suspicion from the start because he is also the head of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., which produces more than 3 million barrels a day. He has said repeatedly that fossil fuels will need to be phased down eventually as part of the energy transition.

While Saudi Arabia has set a net-zero target, it has long argued the focus should be on emissions not which fuels should or should not be part of the mix. It has emphasised the role of carbon capture, use and storage and is pursuing plans to reforest areas of the country.

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Moreover, net zero targets do not include energy exports, just energy consumer at home.

Read more about the early retirement of coal-fired power plants:

Follow The Edge Singapore’s coverage of COP28 here.

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