The Spanish Minister of Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, on Saturday described as "nauseating" the position of the OPEC oil cartel to require its members to defend fossil fuels at the UN climate conference (COP28).

"In my opinion, I think it's quite nauseating what the OPEC countries are doing, pushing to delay things," the minister, who represents Spain's presidency of the European Union (EU) in the climate negotiations, told reporters.

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Colombia gives a boost to the fossil fuel "non-proliferation" treaty

  • Written by: CARLOS FRESNEDA ((environmental correspondent))London

Colombia gives a boost to the fossil fuel "non-proliferation" treaty

"We are not talking about phasing out fossil fuels tomorrow, but unless we create the conditions to reduce them, so that we go to phase them out, it will not happen," she insisted.

Ribera made the remarks shortly before entering a plenary session of COP28, alongside European Commissioner for Climate Action Wopke Hoekstra, who co-leads the European negotiating position in Dubai.

The secretary general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) urged in a letter sent to the members of this cartel to reject any agreement at COP28 that goes against fossil fuels.

"The draft decision still contains options to phase out fossil fuels," Al Ghais said in his letter, which drew criticism from non-governmental organizations in Dubai.

The controversy revolves around how to define the future of oil, gas and coal, which are the energies considered responsible for the vast majority of greenhouse gases.

The draft under discussion at COP28 has several options, which basically range from "phase out" those fossil fuels to "phase down" their use.

"Each (of those options) in isolation is not enough. We have to combine them," Ribera explained.

"I think we have to reduce in order to abandon" these polluting energy sources, Ribera added.

For his part, Hoekstra clarified that, although this abandonment would be "resounding", it would be accompanied by "a series of specifications".

Those conditions are tripling alternative energy generation and doubling energy efficiency, according to the draft under discussion.

COP28 is the climate conference that has to set the course to be taken after the balance of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Criticism of OPEC

"Nothing threatens the prosperity and future of the Earth's people, including the future of the citizens of OPEC countries, more than fossil fuels," said Tina Stege, climate envoy for the Marshall Islands, a Pacific archipelago threatened by rising water levels.

"Not everyone is participating constructively and that worries me," said Germany's special envoy for climate, Jennifer Morgan.

Colombia's environment minister, Susana Muhamad, echoed the criticism in a speech on Friday that drew applause.

Colombia is willing to cut its dependence on oil, the minister recalled. But "there are countries in this room that plan to double their production of fossil fuels," he said.

"Then we won't be able to make the transition," warned Muhamad, who spoke after Saudi Arabia.

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