July 18, 2024

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Exxon Mobil CEO urges COP28 climate summit to focus on emissions

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Dubai, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES — Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods on Saturday said the “problem statement” that countries need to focus on at the COP28 climate summit is reducing emissions, in contrast to calls for a collective commitment to phase out all fossil fuels.

For many at the summit, which is being held in the United Arab Emirates, COP28 can only be recognized as a success if it results in a deal to “phase out” all fossil fuels, whose burning is the chief driver of the climate crisis.

The language of the final agreement, expected by or around the Dec. 12 end of the conference, will be closely monitored. A “phase out” commitment would likely require a shift away from fossil fuels until their use is eliminated, while a “phase down” could indicate a reduction in their use — but not an absolute end.

There’s also an ongoing debate about whether an agreement should center on “abated” fossil fuels, which are trapped and stocked with carbon capture and storage technologies, or “unabated” fossil fuels, which are largely understood to be produced and used without substantial reductions in the amount of emitted greenhouse gases.

Asked by CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick at COP28 whether it would be the wrong scenario for countries to agree to the phase out of abated fossil fuels, Woods replied, “I think what society ought to focus on is the true problem here, which is emissions.”

“The challenge here is eliminating emissions,” he continued. “How we do that will be a function of where the technology goes, and what the circumstances are, and where those emissions are being emitted.”

‘Keep your mind open’

In a speech delivered to world leaders on Friday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres was unequivocal in his call for the burning of fossil fuels to be stopped outright, in order to prevent the worst effects of the climate crisis.

“We cannot save a burning planet with a firehose of fossil fuels,” Guterres said. “The 1.5-degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning…

2023-12-02 07:12:00

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