We’re drunk on oil and gas, need to ‘phase-out’ fossil fuels, Markey says

Any agreement for fighting the negative impacts of a changing climate to emerge from the international summit currently being held in Dubai must include a plan to “phase out” the use of fossil fuels but nevertheless may not, according to the Bay State’s junior U.S. Senator.

U.S. Senator Ed Markey, speaking from the COP28 summit in the United Arab Emirates, warned that efforts to mitigate climate change have met stiff resistance from the countries and companies producing the products thought to be responsible for the problem.

“Young people of the world should be very afraid that OPEC and global oil and gas companies are working to water down this report. OPEC and the oil companies, right now, are trying to whitewash the crisis that has been created by fossil fuels and U.S. companies are part of this as well,” he said.

COP28 is a meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, a yearly gathering of the world’s powers where they examine their progress toward agreed-upon global warming targets. At COP21, in 2015, the member states agreed to limit the rise of global temperatures above pre-industrial model by 2050 to 1.5 degrees centigrade, or 2.7 Fahrenheit. According to COP organizers, to remain on target the world must halve global emissions by 2030.

Analysis by the Paris-based International Energy Agency released on Sunday found that pledges made at COP28 by hundreds of countries and several oil and gas companies to double energy efficiency and triple renewable use are not enough to meet 2050 climate goals.

Despite this, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, along with many developing nations, have pushed back on the idea of reducing the use of fossil fuels or eliminating them entirely. In a letter sent to their member states last week, OPEC Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais urged COP participants to object to any language calling for a phase-out of fossil fuels.

“It seems that the undue and disproportionate pressure against fossil fuels may reach a tipping point with irreversible consequences, as the draft decision still contains options on fossil fuels phase out,” the letter said.

According to Markey, who chairs U.S. Senate’s Clean Air, Climate and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, the world’s oil producers are part of the pushback, but so too are many U.S. industries. They may get their way, he said.

“We cannot preach temperance from a bar stool while we ourselves are drunk on oil and natural gas that the United States exports every single day. Our companies do not want to stop doing that either,” he said. “OPEC and oil and gas companies all over the country, right now, are working very hard to ensure that the words ‘phase-out’ are not part of this agreement. That’s going to slow down the pace at which the world has to move to avoid the worst most catastrophic effects.”

COP28 is scheduled to end on Tuesday.

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