COP28 host UAE says world not ready to ‘switch off’ fossil fuels
UAE climate minister's comments reflect deep divisions between nations over how to combat global warming ahead of the COP28 talks
The United Arab Emirates – host of the upcoming UN climate change talks in December – said Tuesday that while countries should commit to clean and renewable energy, the world is not ready to “switch off” from fossil emissions.
In an interview with Reuters, UAE Climate Change and Environment Minister Mariam Almheiri said phasing out fossil fuels would hurt countries that depend on them or can not easily replace them.
"The renewable space is advancing and accelerating extremely fast, but we are nowhere near to being able to say that we can switch off fossil fuels and solely depend on clean and renewable energy," she said.
Almheiri added that she favored phasing out fossil fuel emissions using capture and storage technologies while ramping up renewable energy, saying this strategy lets countries fight warming while continuing to produce oil, gas, and coal.
"We are now in a transition and this transition needs to be just and pragmatic because not all countries have the resources.”
Her comments reflect deep divisions between nations over how to combat global warming ahead of the COP28 talks. Some wealthy Western governments and climate-afflicted island nations have been pushing for a phase-out of fossil fuels, while resource-rich countries have urged to keep drilling.
At last year's climate summit in Egypt, over 80 countries agreed to include in the final outcome language calling for a phase-down of all fossil fuels. But countries like Saudi Arabia and China called on Egypt not to include that language in the final text.
Almheiri added that alongside energy, global food supply will be a major focus of COP28 because it accounts for nearly a third of global emissions.