Article

Has the COP President's "no science behind phase-out" statement been taken out of context?

"There is no science out there, no scenario out there, that says that the phase-out of fossil fuels is what is going to achieve 1.5 degrees." - The Guardian quote from Sultan Al Jaber that ignited controversy over the COP's presidency.
"1.5 is my north star and a phase-down and a phase-out of fossil fuels is inevitable, it is essential." - The continuation of the quote that was omitted.
The recent remarks by Sultan Al Jaber, the influential oil executive leading the COP28 climate summit in Dubai that there is "no science" supporting the need to phase out fossil fuels for climate stability has triggered alarm and criticism from scientists, advocates, and even fellow delegates at the UN-backed talks
A lot of controversy has been made after the comments by Sultan Al Jaber, President of COP28, in the early days of COP made headlines around the world.
His supposed statement that there is “no science” behind a fossil-fuel phase out seemed to run in direct opposition to the impetus and the goals of the world’s biggest climate summit.
However, were these comments of his actually controversial, or was his message taken out of context?
At We Don’t Have Time, we believe in honesty and transparency when creating dialogue around the climate crisis - and we have successfully found the full context of Al Jaber’s statement that ignited media fires around the world.
Read the full manuscript and listen to the recording here. Make sure to write a comment about what you think about the conversation below the post.

https://youtu.be/U6WqzZO6fC8



The transcript:
Mary Robinson
Can I come in at the stage to say, something I'm really pleased that you did accepts the invitation that I extended you, when we were together in Beijing with the Friends of the Paris agreement to take part of the summit. I think one urgent message has come through in the entire day of the summit. I've heard that every session, I think, and that is that we're in an absolute crisis, that is hurting women more than anyone, women and children, the elderly, those with disability, etc. And, and those most vulnerable, and it's because we have not yet committed to phasing out fossil fuel. That is the one decision that COP28 can take under your presidency. And in many ways, because you're head of the Abu Dhabi national oil company, you could actually take it with more credibility by saying I now recognise, we have to phase out fossil fuel with just transition for the workers and their communities and just transition into renewable, accessible, affordable, clean energy. And it's not going to happen overnight, as you say, it will be orderly, but urgent, I didn't hear the word urgent enough in your voice when you spoke earlier. That's why I kind of interrupted.

Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber
So it's fast track. I'm not sure what urgent means a fast track?

Mary Robinson
Fast Track is, you know, it can be more of a managerial term. Urgency is crisis crisis mode.

Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber
Yeah, we can, we can always play with words here. You are a good politician, and you know how to use words better than I do. I'm a businessman, I am centred around delivery and actions that

Mary Robinson
Will lead on phasing out phasing out fossil fuel with just transition as I've, as I've said

Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber
You can, you can take the lead, I'll make sure I put you as an item on the agenda and adopted, someone has to take the lead, you are a developed, you come from a developed country, developed countries, I'm sure can take the lead, like they always do. And lead by example. You can lead by example. And like I said, from the beginning, I accepted to come to this, to this meeting to have a sober and a mature conversation. We do not I'm not in any way signing up to any discussion that is alarmist, I am here to factual and I respect the science. And there is no science out there or no scenario out there that says that the phase out of fossil fuel is what's going to achieve 1.5. 1.5 as my North Star and a phae down and a phase out of fossil fuel in my view is inevitable, that is ascension. But we need to be real serious and pragmatic about it.

Mary Robinson
But the real serious and pragmatic doesn't take into account that we are in I mean, I respect that you've done a lot of hard work preparing for this COP, and that you've listened to the science. The science is very acute now we don't have any time they say six or seven years. We got peak by 2025 thesis in fossil fuels. And your company is investing in a lot more new fossil fuel. And that's that's that's going to hurt women.

Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber
Mum, you've you've just accused me of something that isn't correct. I'm sorry. I don't take it. Now. I asked you to prove it.

Mary Robinson
I read is investing a lot more fossil fuel in the field. Yes,

Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber
Ma'am. You're reading you're reading your own media, which is biassed and wrong. I am telling you I am the man in charge. And it is wrong. Man. You need to listen to me, please. I'm very pleased to hear it is wrong. You guys. Right. And you believe it? I'm sorry. Not acceptable. What

Mary Robinson
I see.

Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber
I'm not accepting. Sorry. I'm sorry. I respect you. And they do not accept any false accusations. I've been very clear about my position. This is wrong. And you're asking for a phase out of fossil fuel. Please help me show me the roadmap for a phase of the fossil fuel that will allow that will allow for socio for sustainable socio economic development. Unless you want to take the world back into caves. Show me? Yeah,

Mary Robinson
I think we can we have we have?

Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber
Give me the solution. Give us talk about having women be involved. We in this small country have included women more than any other country in the world. 50% of our parliament is women. 33% of our cabinet is women. 77% of our Emirati women enrolled in higher education after secondary school. Our women make up 64% of all university graduates I'm sorry, get your facts straight.


No, no, I understand that. I know that about the UAE but what I was what I what

Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber
I'm sorry I would not

Mary Robinson
suggest you saying you're not going to invest in the future in fossil fuel. With your Abu Dhabi oil company

Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber
says ever again. Now,

Mary Robinson
are you saying that I'm I was mistaken and saying that you're going to invest in fossil fuel? Or you're not going to invest in new fossil fuel? Because it's good to clarify if that is untrue, I'll accept it from you.

Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber
What is not true? What is not true is what you said that we're doubling capacity. We're not doubling capacity. That's number one. I didn't use those words. Mama, mom, hold on, let me just explain. Let me just explain, the world will continue to need energy sources. We are the only ones in the world today that have been decarbonizing the oil and gas resources. We have the lowest carbon intensity. We have the low we are seven kilogrammes. I have not heard you talk to the Norwegians or others the way you talk to us. Time has come Mary Mary

Mary Robinson
I don't accept that I'm selective. I talk to the Norwegians. I talk to the US. I talk with the elders talk to everybody across the board independently. But I'm glad that you are taking part of this discussion, because you have such a role as president, if you can encourage this.

Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber
Because I'm not because I'm not a hypocrite. And I am not shying away from any facts. I am here talking to you just like I did in China. Yeah, I told you exactly. You need to get your facts straight.

SHE Changes Climate Moderator
In I thank you for this exchange for this robust and positive exchange, I think a clear invitation from His Excellency, Marie to input into that roadmap, and Mary, for you to share the expectation associated to this roadmap. I thank you for this exchange. And I would like to bring a summer into this conversation. So

Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber
yes, Sophie, I'm sorry to interrupt you, Maria interrupted me earlier. I'm gonna have to come in now. I don't think Mary will be able to help solve the climate problem by pointing fingers or contributing to the polarisation and the divide that is already happening in the world. What we need here is solutions. Show me the solutions. Stop pointing fingers, show me solutions. Show me what you can do. Show me your own contributions. And I will salute you for it. Stop the pointing of fingers. Stop it.


What do you think of this conversation and how media have quoted it. Comment to discuss the topic.
  • Scopitus Phantaestus

    5 w

    Climate is truly a hot topic and worth paying attention to. The analysis you share is truly fascinating. Words used correctly https://scratchgames.io

    • Princess

      18 w

      Engaging in open dialogue about such statements helps foster a better understanding of the complex issues discussed at COP28.

      1
      • George Kariuki

        18 w

        He should take it back or male a clear clarification on what he meant with that statement.

        2
        • mercy nduta

          18 w

          @george_kariuki Clarification should serve well.

          1
        • Glenn Sankatsing

          18 w

          FOSSIL FUELS WILL FOSSILIZE US ALL Al Jaber, President of COP28 and Chief Executive of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company,: “There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says that the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5C … unless you want to take the world back into caves.” Yes, humanity has traveled from the gate of the cave to the brink of the grave! Cave? Better a stone age than no age. Fortunately, there is a middle way: Phase out fossil fuels because fossil fuels will fossilize us all.

          3
          • Scott Keyser

            18 w

            I'd describe his stance as aggressive-defensive and ambiguous. Is he in favour of phasing out fossil fuels or not? Given his position at the head of ADNOC and this lack of clarity, I'd put good money on the fact he's not. Whose decision was it anyway to make him COP President?

            2
            • wagdi alqadase

              18 w

              We want credibility that countries producing oil and gas must gradually reduce fossil fuels. I expect that we are in danger in the future, far from the interest, and that today’s participants in the conference are parties concerned with climate change if they do not commit to gradually reducing carbon. So we have no quality of being on this path and everything we do is an illusion for the same only.

              1
              • Takashi

                18 w

                Thank you for posting the full manuscript. Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber got irritated when Mary Robinson interrupted and told him that he didn’t sound urgent enough, that the COP28 could, under his presidency, take the decision to phase out fossil fuel with more credibility because he is the head of the Abu Dhabi national oil company. He says he is there ‘to have a sober and a mature conversation’ but gets carried away by his emotions and fails to do so himself. ‘I respect the science’ and ‘1.5 as my North Star, and a phase down and a phase out of fossil fuel in my view is inevitable’, he says but in the same breath also says: ‘there is no science out there or no scenario out there that says that the phase out of fossil fuel is what's going to achieve 1.5’. That is confusing but then he adds ‘we need to be real serious and pragmatic about it’. He says to Mary Robinson: ‘you’re asking for a phase out of fossil fuel…. show me the roadmap for a phase out of the fossil fuel that will allow…sustainable socio economic development’. Here he is only concerned about the effects that phasing out would have on ‘development’ and not on achieving 1.5 degrees. That seems to be where he stands. I found it interesting to hear some of his views that might affect his own actions. politician (Mary Robinson) – good with words businessman (himself) – deliver and act developed countries – always take the lead (but not always by example) the world – becoming polarised and divided He says: ‘What we need here is solutions and not pointing the finger at someone.’ I urge him to stick to his words and deliver solutions.

                6
                • Petter Körnemark

                  18 w

                  @takashi_tomura I like your analysis! And at one point I really agree with Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber: ‘What we need here is solutions and not pointing the finger at someone.’ What if both politiancs and businessmen, developed countries and the polarized world could all join in together over solutions.

                  2
                  • Calvince Odongo

                    18 w

                    @takashi_tomura Some analysis there. Thank you.

                    2
                    • Calvince Odongo

                      18 w

                      @takashi_tomura If phase out and phase down is not what is going to achieve the 1.5, then what is? His concern is so much on what it is going to have on their economy. I'll say he's a bit cynical.

                      2
                    • Ted Weber

                      19 w

                      Sultan Al-Jaber is very disrespectful, dismissive, and defensive in this conversation. I think Ms. Robinson is on to something.

                      5
                      • Fiona Gregory

                        19 w

                        Nothing he says makes sense. What a frustrating person to talk to. Claiming he wants the facts and then taking offence when facts are pointed out to him.

                        6
                        • Pat Duran

                          19 w

                          It's a little difficult to determine exactly his point because of the obvious language barrier, and he was also obviously miffed at both her interruption and the content of her remarks, but given all that he is very obviously stating that while he shares an aspiration to limiting global warming to the 1.5 degrees that climate scientists are insisting is crucial, he seems at the same time to deny that because the very basis for the warming is the burning of fossil fuels, its phasing out quickly a real necessity. He is a denier, in that sense.

                          4
                          • Roland Baartscheer

                            19 w

                            The phase out of fossil fuels should happen by the consumers not the producers. As long as there is demand there will production. Also not all fossil fuels are equal, as long as Europe is buying shale gas shipped by boat from the US for energy the ‘developed’ world is not leading by example but by hypocrisy. Geopolitics rules and does not care about 1.5 degrees and the lives of women, children and the elderly as demonstrated daily.

                            5
                            • Andy Kadir-Buxton

                              19 w

                              This is a climate crisis, we must do both.

                              5
                              • Ingmar Rentzhog

                                19 w

                                @andy_kadir_buxton_978 100% agree!

                                1
                              • We Don't Have Time

                                19 w

                                Another story about the #COP28 host is also simplified. Read about it here: https://app.wedonthavetime.org/posts/8a633651-acac-4c5a-847d-0d16c4c416d1 Dive into this fascinating piece of investigative journalism that sheds light on the ongoing propaganda battle surrounding COP28. Remember, the reality is often more nuanced than it appears.

                                3
                                • Pefer Inteilin

                                  10 w

                                  It was really a mistake when conducting the experiment. Surely it needs to be clearly balanced to ensure success. Your sharing is easy to see and it also teaches us to be more careful https://geometrydashlite.co

                                • Kevin

                                  19 w

                                  The COP president seems to have his own conviction that science really does not explain how phasing out fossil fuels could indeed bring about 1.5 degrees stability.

                                  5
                                  • Andy Kadir-Buxton

                                    19 w

                                    It's a start. We must use all our weapons listed in 'Drawdown' book.

                                    4
                                  • Eddy Canfor-Dumas

                                    19 w

                                    The flaw in the whole idea of NetZero is that vast amounts of GHGs have to be withdrawn from the atmosphere to balance any new fossil fuel emissions. And that simply isn’t happening – now or even on the horizon. So we’re beyond ‘We Don’t Have Time’. We’re at ‘We’re Out Of Time’. Sorry.

                                    5
                                    • Petter Körnemark

                                      18 w

                                      @eddy_canfor_dumas But we must not lose hope. We might be too late to save it all, but there still alot that can be saved and solved in time.

                                      3
                                    • Chris Willmott

                                      19 w

                                      It's good to see the context. I do think that what the COP process needs right now is for Sultan Al Jaber to clearly state that he is in favour of a fossil fuel phase out and to state when he will start that process for his own company. He has already said that it is inevitable (we will run out at some point), but he could go further. Hard to do, given the potential impact on fossil fuel company share prices etc, but someone has to be brave and start bending the curve downwards. Those who understand this are not asking for fossil fuels to end overnight - they are needed to power the energy transition, but the pace of change is way off. We need a burning platform approach.

                                      9
                                      • John Thomas

                                        19 w

                                        Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber is defensive and aggressively counters Mary Robinson without ever saying what his plans for expansion of oil & gas exploitation by his fossil company is. This document, in a folder labelled "sub-brand" may give a clue. https://www.adnoc.ae/-/media/Adnoc-v2/Sub-Brands/Sustainability-and-Energy-Transition/Files/Advancing-TowardsNetZero---Delivering-Progress--JULY2023.ashx $15 billion spend on "low-carbon" investments by 2027, over a period ADNOC is reported to be investing $150 billion in expansion of fossil fuel exploitation. Mary Robinson is right to ask this leader of a COP to step up and show example to the oil producers of the world. Atmospheric physics will pay no attention at all to marketing of sub-brands. Personally I can't reconcile the controversial sentence with the sentence that follows. The science is unequivocal. Fossil fuels must be phased out, and not some day in the future when we have non-existent carbon sequestration systems on a planetary scale, but as soon as possible.

                                        6
                                        • Rosalind Kent

                                          19 w

                                          It was an ill-advised comment and was mis-quoted!

                                          8
                                          • Pat Duran

                                            19 w

                                            @rosalind_kent_985 I don't think he was misquoted. He hedges a good bit but the headlines captured the essence of his remarks - which were that science isn't telling us that we need to immediately start the quick phasing out of fossil fuels. But contrary to his assertion, that is exactly what the science is telling us, according to climate scientists.

                                            3
                                          • Neil Brown

                                            19 w

                                            Thank you for publishing the full transcript. I could accept that Sultan Al-Jaber genuinely believes in the need for the phase down and eventual phase out of fossil fuels. Yet the key is in your own name: we really don't have time for the actions of ADNOC (and many other organisations) to continue with their current programme of exploration and exploitation of resources. If he had explicitly given a schedule for ADNOC 'turning the taps off' / 'turning the oil tanker around' (or whatever other oil-related metaphor you could use), that would have given everyone a basis to engage and work forward, with the aim of speeding up that transition in order to actually meet the hard deadlines identified by the vast amount of scientific research that we have. And that research includes showing how we could have a vastly better quality of live, and not just go back to living in caves, to use his pejorative expression. If that is his true thinking, given his access to the vast amount of information about how we can - and must - urgently, very urgently, transition, then the mockery of holding COP28 in a nation whose current wealth is built on fossil fuel production has been firmly exposed. There was, indeed, a chance that Abu Dhabi could have been an inspired choice of venue for COP28. By Sultan Al-Jaber letting his mask slip, that chance has proven false. Whatever comes out of the conference's final proclamation will be forever tainted and questionable.

                                            3
                                            • Frederique Seidel

                                              19 w

                                              The conversation illustrates the consequences of current impunity of climate disinformation, which is putting at risk children’s future.

                                              5
                                              • Staffan Olsson

                                                19 w

                                                70000 delegates at COP28, only resulting in a fuzzy document without any mandatory actions. Tims is elapsing rapidly! 😱

                                                4
                                                • Christine Zimmermann-Lössl

                                                  19 w

                                                  First of all thank you for providing the complete conversation. It makes clear that his words had a more complex context but his vague position and waiting for others to provide him a plan to phase out is so disappointing. More pressure on them is necessary and this is what the quote did - putting more pressure on them!

                                                  6
                                                  • Susan Eyre

                                                    19 w

                                                    @christine_zimmermann_lossl good point. The Sultan is opening the field for input. Let’s hear solutions.

                                                    1
                                                  • Gabriella Coppolecchia

                                                    19 w

                                                    What I gather is that he's expecting someone else, some unicorn, to serve him a solution for phasing out. He doesn't seem to have a plan. He might not be against it and he might have made some changes to minimally reduce the damage, but he certainly doesn't seem like he's going to actively be doing something about it. This is a time to go above and beyond for the benefit of everyone.

                                                    7
                                                    Welcome, let's solve the climate crisis together
                                                    Post youtube preview with preloading
                                                    youtube overlay

                                                    Write or agree to climate reviews to make businesses and world leaders act. It’s easy and it works.

                                                    Write a climate review

                                                    Voice your opinion on how businesses and organizations impact the climate.
                                                    0 trees planted

                                                    One tree is planted for every climate review written to an organization that is Open for Climate Dialogue™.

                                                    Download the app

                                                    We plant a tree for every new user.

                                                    AppleAndroid