Get out of coal, oil and gas?

The world has to get out of coal, oil and gas – that is the clear verdict of science. Politically, things are different. This could also be due to a spicy personality.

Since the beginning of the week, representatives from all over the world have been meeting in Bonn to prepare for the next United Nations climate summit in the fall. The common enemy: the climate crisis. Science warns it’s more urgent than ever. But the most important issue might not even end up on the agenda – the exit from coal, oil and gas.

This could also be due to a spicy personality. Because the climate summit beginning in November will be held this time in Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates. Industry Minister Sultan Ahmed al-Dschaber is to assume the presidency. Can he of all people initiate the turning point?

Climate summit in the oil state

At least there are doubts about that. Because al-Dschaber is not only Industry Minister, but also head of the state oil company Adnoc (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company). In addition, the United Arab Emirates rank seventh in the world for oil and 14th for gas production. The fossil industry has made the Emirates rich.

Al-Dschaber asserted that his goal was a “balanced and ambitious result” – and to reach a consensus on controversial points.

Bonn is now wrestling with the roadmap for the negotiations in Dubai – and with putting fossil fuels on the agenda. It has long been proven that the climate crisis was caused by the burning of oil, gas and coal. The CO2 they cause is the biggest driver of global warming, wrote the scientists of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change again in their report at the end of March.

The Adnoc headquarters in Abu Dhabi (archive image): Abu Dhabi and Dubai are two of the seven emirates. (Quelle: monticello/Panthermedia/imago images)

Dispute months before the climate summit

Five weeks before the Bonn climate conference in Berlin, it became apparent that there would be a dispute. At the so-called Petersberg Climate Dialogue, organized by the German Foreign Office, ideas about future climate policy clashed.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) – who has also been responsible for international climate policy since taking over at the Federal Foreign Office – declared unequivocally “that we have to get out of fossil fuels”. Al-Dschaber, on the other hand, said that the future includes all energy sources. “The issue was and is the end of emissions.”

President of the climate summit relies on immature technology

So the oil boss doesn’t want to write off his business – that’s the impression. In Bonn he then struck a more conciliatory tone: “The gradual phase-out of fossil fuels is inevitable,” said al-Dschaber at an event on the sidelines of the conference. However, when this should come depends on how quickly CO2-free alternatives are available. Energy security, accessibility and affordability had to be guaranteed.

What is known is that, in addition to the rapid expansion of renewable energies, Al-Dschaber also relies on technologies such as e-fuels or what is known as CCS (“Carbon Capture and Storage”). Such systems should bind and store CO2, and in some cases also remove emissions that have already been emitted.

CCS plant in Texas, USA: If the CO2 produced when fossil fuels are burned is captured directly, the plant is mathematically climate-neutral.
CCS plant in Texas, USA: If the CO2 produced when fossil fuels are burned is captured directly, the plant is mathematically climate-neutral. (Quelle: Trish Badger/Reuters)

Corresponding facilities already exist – but the technology is far from the extent to which it would be needed for a future according to Al-Dschaber’s vision. Experts doubt whether it will ever be that big. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Federal Government only rely on capturing CO2 for unavoidable residual emissions.

Researchers see diversion strategy

Climate scientists also warn. They see al-Dschaber’s course as a counterproductive diversion strategy that only serves to keep the fossil fuel industry alive, according to the analysis of the “Climate Action Tracker” website, which classifies international climate policy more scientifically. It is operated by a coalition of researchers from two think tanks.

The scientists have established that not only is there a problem with the global phase-out of fossil energies – the fossil sector is even being further expanded and promoted by the largest oil and gas producers. The researchers also list Germany as a negative example – along with countries such as the USA, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.


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