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Saudi Arabia echoes “Business as usual” as a key COP28 argument

Saudi Arabia echoes “Business as usual” as a key COP28 argument

Saudi Aramco oil workers. Photo credit: Saudi Aramco.

By Anders Lorenzen

One of the world’s largest oil producers and the biggest in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, is to use the upcoming UN climate conference, COP28, to argue for their own business and financial interests.

This week, the CEO of the state-owned Saudi Arabian oil giant Saudi Aramco, Amin Nasser, said that COP28 should focus on reducing emissions, rather than reducing production.

Addressing the Energy Intelligence Forum in London, UK, he said: “The focus should be on emissions. Today the focus is not purely on emissions, but instead is, `We need to either shut or slow down big time your conventional energy use and production`”

He argued that the business-as-usual case which we know scientists have said would be catastrophic. He added that laying out the charge that renewables on their own cannot shoulder the burden of global energy demand, and that cuts to oil and gas production would result in energy shortages and price spikes.

Delaying tactics

Amin Nasser laid out the case, that he believes carbon capture and storage (CCS), and improving the efficiency of fossil fuel production, should be the priority in reducing emissions.

It is true that CCS has taken off in recent years, with many new projects having been announced. But to be able to cut emissions on a meaningful scale using this technology you would need thousands and thousands of projects established. On a global scale, there are currently only a handful of trial projects. The CCS technology is in its infancy, and not able to capture the full output of emissions from an industrial activity such as a power plant. It would take years before enough projects are established to make a meaningful impact on reducing emissions.

Critics would also argue, that for years oil and gas companies have been actively diminishing the role of energy efficiency, as it would hurt their business models.

Nasser’s comments came as the European Union (EU) are pushing for a deal at COP28 that would phase out CO2-emitting fossil fuels, which would be a world’s first.

Climate scientists say the world needs to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 43% by 2030, compared to 2019 levels. Only then is the world going to have any chance of meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of keeping temperature increases well below 2 degrees C.

COP28 will begin in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the 30th of November and last until the 12th of December.

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