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As the United Arab Emirates gears up to host COP28, summit President Sultan Al Jaber has urged nations to find middle ground on the contentious issue of fossil fuels. 

Addressing the Pre-COP28 summit in Abu Dhabi, Al Jaber acknowledged the heated debate surrounding fossil fuels and renewables in the negotiations. He called on delegates to “work together” and find solutions that can achieve “alignment, common ground and consensus between all parties”.

Spanish Energy Minister Teresa Ribera said that while no major breakthroughs have occurred thus far, the talks are a crucial step towards understanding each nation’s stance and finding compromises ahead of COP.

Negotiating differences

The upcoming UN climate summit, scheduled from November 30 to December 12, aims to secure an agreement for the reduction of fossil fuel use. However, there remains a deep division between those pushing for a swift phaseout of coal, oil and gas, which are the primary contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, and those advocating for the continued use of fossil fuels.

The key objectives of COP28 include measures to reduce emissions, notably through a commitment to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030 and phasing out CO2-emitting fossil fuels. This vision aligns with the goals of European countries and vulnerable states that are fervently pursuing an accelerated transition to cleaner energy.

However, the choice of Al Jaber to lead the climate talks has raised concerns among some US and EU lawmakers. Al Jaber, who also serves as the head of the UAE’s state oil company ADNOC, has expressed the need to involve all stakeholders, including the fossil fuel industry. He prefers a slower, phasedown approach that includes all available technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) and carbon dioxide removal (CDR), which would allow for the continued use of fossil fuels.