The secretary general of the oil exporting countries “urgently” asked its 23 member or associated countries to “proactively reject” any agreement targeting fossil fuels in climate negotiations.
The European delegations had lively discussions on Saturday morning. They were targeting a letter from the Secretary General of OPEC, Haitham al-Ghais, revealed by AFP on Friday December 8 evening, asking the 23 member countries of the oil organization to refuse any reference to “fossil fuels” in the final agreement of COP28, the twenty-eighth United Nations conference on climate change. This meeting must end Tuesday morning, promised its president, Sultan al-Jaber, who is pushing to refer to fossil fuels in the concluding text. This would be a first in a document from these international summits.
But diplomacy has taken over. The term “repugnant” attributed to Teresa Ribera, Minister of the Environment of Spain and leader of the Council of European Ministers at COP28, is a contradiction in terms, people around her explain. The climate expert, who notably directed the IDDRI (Institute of Sustainable Development and International Relations), pronounced the word “disgusting”, which is a “false friend” in Spanish to mean “intolerable”. » or “unworthy”, people around him explain. For his part, the Dutchman Wopke Hoekstra, the new European Commissioner in charge of Climate, used more polished language. This former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands nevertheless indicated that “the science tells us. We have no other choice (…). “It’s the beginning of the end for fossil fuels.” For her part, Theresa Ribera clarified that countries “need to reduce” their dependence on fossil fuels, before getting out of them.
Climate diplomacy regains its rights
These remarks were made this Saturday morning, before the start of the plenary meeting of representatives of the 196 countries and the European Union at COP28. At that time, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister of Energy Transition, had just disembarked from her plane in Dubai, which landed at 8 a.m. She returned a day ahead of her initial schedule, to lead the final negotiations for France and participate in negotiations on climate finance for the European Union. And regarding the letter from the Secretary General of OPEC, “I mentioned it on my own. But I did not have the letter in hand,” the minister clarified in Le Figaro on Saturday afternoon, after meeting her Saudi counterpart. In the morning, she added her stone to the representatives of Europe. She declared herself “stunned by OPEC’s statements” and “angry”. According to her, the comments of oil-exporting countries “are not appropriate”. Because, as scientists repeat, “fossil fuels are responsible for more than 75% of greenhouse gas emissions” and therefore for global warming. In addition, this endangers the poorest countries, particularly in Africa where more than “600 million people do not have access to electricity”.
To succeed in the negotiations, the French minister supports the constructive and new proposals of the president of COP28, in his latest draft final agreement, published on Friday. This concerns in particular a formulation “which evokes the substitution of fossil fuels by renewable energies”, a proposal raised in November by China and the United States. But she adds that “Europeans want to hear about all fossil fuels”. And that “we are not going to point the finger at this or that (country). We must say the consequences of fossil fuels on our energy system. It is therefore essential to follow the scientists and “organize the exit from fossil fuels”. Because “we don’t know how to get out of countries that are more than 30% dependent on coal overnight.” Finally, the minister assures “that she has not had a negative reaction from the Saudis”.
Asked about the comments made by European officials, the Saudi Arabian delegation did not wish to make any comments for the moment. Climate diplomacy is regaining its rights.
This article is originally published on lefigaro.fr