"These two weeks are not going to be easy," announced Sultan al-Jaber, chairman of the Dubai Climate Summit and chief executive of the UAE's state-owned oil company, ADNOC, in his opening speech.

The biggest climate change conference in history has just kicked off with the Sultan boasting about the decarbonisation of the energy system: "Let history reflect the fact that it was this presidency that made the bold decision to proactively engage with oil and gas companies. We had a lot of discussions. Let me tell you, it wasn't easy. But now, many of these companies are committing for the first time to reducing methane emissions to zero by 2030. And many national oil companies have adopted net-zero targets by 2050 for the first time."

The job of the COP28 negotiators will be, explained the COP28 president, "to move forward along unprecedented paths, and to take the whole world with them", with proposals that "have a new vision with the utmost ambition, that lead to real-world results" and that act "without nonsense or delay so that the world regains faith in multilateralism".

"Science has spoken," Al Jaber said, calling the meeting a "crossroads": "We all know that the path we are on will not lead to the destination we want in time."

"We have no choice but to go the unconventional route and be flexible, find common paths and move forward with solutions and achieve consensus and never lose sight of our 1.5-degree North Star, which is the goal that I'm going to be focused on with laser precision."

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The UAE planned to use COP28 to strike oil and gas deals with 15 countries

  • Written by: CARLOS FRESNEDA (Correspondent)London

The UAE planned to use COP28 to strike oil and gas deals with 15 countries


Climate Summit Kicks Off: Guterres Calls for "Phase-Out" of Fossil Fuels

  • Written by: CARLOS FRESNEDA (Correspondent)London

Climate Summit Kicks Off: Guterres Calls for "Phase-Out" of Fossil Fuels

UN Executive Secretary for Climate Change Simon Stiell said: "If we do not signal the terminal phase of the fossil fuel era as we know it, we welcome our terminal phase. And we choose to pay with people's lives."

The UN climate crisis chief also said that "baby steps" are being taken, and that we must "teach climate action to run because this has been the hottest year of humanity. A lot of terrifying records have been broken," which are costing "people's lives and livelihoods."

And he sent a strong message to the 70,000 delegates waiting for the Climate Summit: "The badges you wear around your neck make you responsible."

The start of the summit was marked by the false announcement of the resignation of Sultan al-Jaber from his position as executive director of the United Arab Emirates' state oil company, ADNOC, as a result of criticism about the incompatibility of the two positions.

The COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai denied issuing such a statement: "It was not issued by the COP28 team, has no basis for truth and should be completely dismissed as fake news," the organization said in a statement on X (formerly Twitter), after the statement was apparently issued through an email address of the event and received by journalists accredited to the summit.

The organisers of the climate event, which kicks off on Thursday in Dubai, said that the president-designate of the summit said today at a press conference that it is "an attempt to undermine the work of the COP28 Presidency".

The statement received by reporters said that Al Jaber resigned from his position as executive director of ADNOC after a series of deliberations with senior officials at the United Nations conference, and indicated that presiding over COP28 and running a state-owned oil company is "incompatible with several clauses of the Paris Agreement."

Presentation of the Climate Summit in Dubai.GIUSEPPE CACACEAFP

The fake news was spread on the eve of the COP and in a context of maximum controversy and criticism directed against Al Jaber, whose relationship with the world of fossil fuels led nearly 450 civil society organizations to call on the UN secretary-general to step down as president of the climate conference in January. António Guterres.

Other human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International defined the performance of both roles as "incompatible."

The controversy also exploded after a report published this week by the BBC revealed that the Emirates used its role in the presidency of COP28 to seek oil and gas agreements with 15 countries while discussing with them issues on the agenda of the climate meeting. The COP28 presidency has limited itself to responding to this report, stating that it is "imprecise" and "unverified".

The president of the previous COP, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, called in his opening speech for a minute's silence for "all civilians killed in the ongoing Gaza conflict".

Cooperation between nations will be put to the test at COP28, which announced nearly 97,000 registrants, more than double the number of the previous event.

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