Environment, OPEC’s letter shakes COP 28 and is controversial


By John

Like a bolt from the blue, OPEC’s letter to COP28 has sparked a real uproar. Not only the activists rose up, but also the European Union itself, together with the Spanish and French governments, rejected without appeal the harsh position of the Vienna cartel. The spark was triggered by the Secretary General of OPECHaitham Al Ghais, which sent a letter to the 13 members of the group and 10 allies led by Russia, after the negotiators, during the Dubai talks, released a draft agreement that included the request to phase out fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas), main causes of global warming. In the text of the letter, the Vienna organization warned member countries with “maximum urgency” that “the pressure against fossil fuels could reach a turning point with irreversible consequences”. And so given that a “phasing out of fossil fuels” remains on the negotiating table at the United Nations climate summit, OPEC has urged oil states to “proactively reject any text or formula that targets energy, i.e. fossil fuels, rather than emissions.” In short, OPEC fears that COP28 could represent a turning point against oil and gas, which they say “put the prosperity and future of our people at risk”.
OPEC, founded in 1960 by Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iraq, Iran and Kuwait, has over the years seen the membership of Libya, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Nigeria, Ecuador, Gabon, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo: As of 2019, there are thus 14 member states, which possess 80% of global oil reserves and which have produced approximately 40% of the world’s oil in the last decade.
The Spanish Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, called the OPEC letter “repugnant”. The French Energy Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher she said she was “astonished” while the European Union made it known that it will fight until the last moment so that the climate summit in Dubai ends with a clear agreement on the beginning of the elimination of fossil fuels because, according to its representatives , science says that “there is no alternative” to tackle climate warming. The representative of the presidency, the minister of ecological transition, Teresa Ribera, says she is convinced that «it is worth fighting and making it clear that it is very difficult to create the conditions for this massive investment and at the pace we need if we continue to speak vaguely ».
The letter was also sent to the United Arab Emirates, another OPEC member, which hosts COP28. More than 100 countries want COP28’s final decision to call for the phase-out of fossil fuels. This would be a strong signal that the end of the age of coal, oil and gas has arrived and would help drive the necessary and urgent cuts that scientists have made clear are necessary. Carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are the main cause of the climate crisis. Emissions are still rising, but they need to fall by almost half by 2030 and reach zero by 2050 to have a chance of keeping global warming within the internationally agreed 1.5 degree limit.