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No 'single solution' for energy transition — OPEC chief

UN looks for deal on winding down fossil fuels

By AFP - Dec 09,2023 - Last updated at Dec 09,2023

Climate activists raise banners during a joint 'climate justice' and 'ceasefire now' march, demanding an end to the violence in the Gaza Strip, at the United Nations climate summit in Dubai on Saturday (AFP photo)

DUBAI — The head of the OPEC oil cartel said on Saturday there was no "single solution" to the energy transition as pressure grows to agree a phase-out of fossil fuels at the COP28 climate talks.

"There is no single solution or path to achieve a sustainable energy future," OPEC Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais said during the UN meeting in Dubai.

"We need realistic approaches to tackle emission, ones that enable economic growth, help eradicate poverty and increase resilience at the same time."

OPEC attracted criticism on Saturday after it emerged that the Kuwaiti on secretary general wrote to the group's 13 members and 10 allies this week urging them to "proactively reject" any language that "targets" fossil fuels instead of emissions.

Negotiators strived for a compromise on phasing out fossil fuels at UN climate talks Friday as momentum gathered to strike a historic deal in Dubai.

After the arrival of ministers for the summit's final stretch, a new draft was released with more options on the most difficult part of an emerging deal, cutting fossil fuels to tame the planet's soaring temperatures.

The third version of the draft, which represents views of various countries, offers five options. One that remains from previous versions calls for not mentioning fossil fuels at all.

Other options include phasing out "unabated" fossil fuels, those whose emissions cannot be captured, with a goal of peaking consumption this decade and aiming for the world's energy sector to be "predominantly free of fossil fuels well ahead of 2050".

A new line calls for ramping up renewable energy to displace fossil fuels, oil, gas and coal, with a goal of "significantly reducing global reliance on non-renewable and high-emission energy sources".

That language is in line with an agreement between the United States and China, the world's top emitters of greenhouse gases, at talks in California last month.

COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber wants to wrap up the talks on schedule at 11 am (07:00 GMT) on Tuesday, which means that all the nearly 200 nations will have to come to a consensus.

"Let us please get this job done," he said.

Scientists warn that greenhouse gas emissions, the bulk of which come from burning fossil fuels, must fall by 43 per cent by 2030 for the world to reach the goal of limiting warming to 1.5ºC.

"I think many countries at the end might be able to agree to phase-out if the word unabated is included because unabated will weaken the phase-out and make it more of a phase-down," John Verdieck, director of international climate policy at The Nature Conservancy, told AFP.

This would still "create a good signal because the word phase-out could be in there", said Verdieck, a former climate negotiator at the US State Department.

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