OPEC Pushes Back Against UN Climate Summit Proposals to Phase Out Fossil Fuels
The head of the OPEC oil cartel, Haitham Al-Ghais, has directed the group’s members to scuttle any deal that would affect the continued production and sales of oil, gas, and coal. This comes as nations gathered at the United Nations climate summit in Dubai are considering an agreement to phase out fossil fuels.
In a letter dated Dec. 6, Al-Ghais warned all members that there was rising pressure at the summit to target fossil fuels. He called those plans “politically motivated campaigns” against oil-rich nations that put “our people’s prosperity and future at risk.”
The letter, which was sent to top ministers in all 13 OPEC countries as well as 10 additional nations in an expanded group known as OPEC Plus, urged the petroleum producers to “reject any text or formula that targets energy i.e. fossil fuels rather than emissions.”
Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are dangerously heating the planet, prompting many to advocate for a global transition to renewable energy. However, the fossil fuel industry has sought to frame the problem as one of emissions, arguing that if greenhouse gases could be contained or removed from the atmosphere, the world could continue to burn oil, gas, and coal.
The OPEC letter sets up a potential showdown at the summit, as any agreement must be unanimously endorsed, meaning any of the 198 participating nations can thwart a deal.
As climate disasters have affected every corner of the globe, there is increasing pressure on the diplomats gathered in Dubai to take action. However, the oil cartel’s stance could hinder efforts to pass a historic agreement to phase out fossil fuels.
If nations do agree to phase out fossil fuels in Dubai, it would be a significant moment since past U.N. climate deals have shied away from even mentioning the words “fossil fuels” let alone contemplating a phaseout.
These developments set the stage for a contentious conclusion to the climate summit as diplomats work to reach an agreement that addresses the urgent need to limit global warming and transition to renewable energy sources.