Oil CEO calls for emission cuts, while pumping out fuel

A top oil company CEO who will lead international climate talks later this year has told energy industry power players that the world must cut emissions by seven per cent each year and eliminate all emissions of the greenhouse gas methane.

But Sultan al-Jaber, CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., did not directly address emissions from transportation, where most crude oil ends up. Emissions from transport are the largest contributor to climate change in many countries, including the United States.

Speaking at the Ceraweek meeting of oil and gas officials in Houston, al-Jaber singled out electricity, cement, steel and aluminum as targets for cleanup, but not trucks, cars, trains and aircraft. He called for far greater investment to speed the transition to cleaner industries.

"According to the IEA, in 2022, the world invested $1.4 trillion in the energy transition," he said. "We need over three times that amount."

And he said that investment must flow to the developing world.

"Only 15 per cent of clean tech investment reaches developing economies in the global south, and that is where 80 per cent of the population live," he stressed.

Al-Jaber did not call for the phasing out of oil and gas production and use, something that scientists and advocates have been demanding unsuccessfully over repeated COPs, short for Conference of the Parties, where nations meet to make climate commitments.

According to the International Energy Agency, to avoid the worst climate changes, there can be no new oil and gas production.

The United Arab Emirates leader said his country was first in its region to commit to the Paris climate agreement, and to set a pathway to net zero emissions. But its emissions in 2021 were up, not down, 3 per cent from the year before, according to the Global Carbon Project. They were however 6 per cent below the country's peak in 2015. According to Climate Action Tracker, UAE has an overall rating of "highly insufficient," meaning its projected emissions are not in line with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. pumps approximately 4 million barrels of crude a day and plans on expanding to 5 million barrels daily.

Each year, nations gather at the COP to discuss how Paris Agreement goals to limit global warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, can be achieved through international collaboration.

The 28th such conference, COP28, will be held in Dubai from November 30. The choice of country has drawn criticism given the nation's high, and growing level of crude production. The choice of al-Jaber, CEO of a national oil company, has also drawn scorn.

Al-Jaber is the United Arab Emirates minister of industry and advanced technology, and also serves as the chairman of Masdar, a renewable energy company.

Ceraweek attracts high level oil and gas officials each year and is hosted by S&P Global.