Climate change: sifting facts from fiction 

Climate change: sifting facts from fiction 

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As the COP28 meeting to be held in Dubai is just around the corner, the criticism of oil and gas producers from certain Western circles — officials and organizations, has intensified.

Truth be told, such concerted campaigns against oil and gas producers are nothing new. With the help of some supporters in the international media, these elements circulate half-baked theories to support their claims just to discredit the other party or blame them for the issues at hand. This time around they are using “this year being the hottest” in human history to blame hydrocarbon producers for the situation. Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are the prime target of their criticism.

However, it seems these critics deliberately choose to overlook facts such as there are far worse pollutants on Earth that have contributed to a rise in the planet’s temperature. They tend to forget that the industrialized nations in the West have been emitting greenhouse gases for the last 200 years long before others and that countries like the US, the UK, and Germany continue to subsidize coalmining, which is the second largest source of pollution after greenhouse gases. Anybody can verify the veracity of these claims.

I would like to present some more facts and figures to prove my point. Last year, the Netherlands and the UK issued licenses to companies to explore oil, which means they expect oil and gas to continue to be their main source of energy at least in the foreseeable future.

The fact that the US-Russian fight over who would extend energy lines from the East to Europe via the Mediterranean, via their allies in the region, also indicates that oil and gas will also be part of the West’s long-term future plans. 

Europe and the rest of the world continue to rely heavily on oil and gas to date, and the fact that any transition from that would take a long time, means, at least from my own perspective I believe that the reliance on oil and gas will continue to prevail for the next 100 years.

I find it interesting that Western officials fly to COP meetings in private jets fueled by hydrocarbon sources and have the audacity to talk about the end of the oil era.

I would also like to raise a question here. Will any of the coalmining and oil-producing Western countries dare cut off their subsidies for coal? The answer is — no. I know that for a fact because one German minister told me so when I asked him that question long ago when I represented Saudi Arabia as a chief negotiator at COP meetings. According to him, thousands of families rely on that sector. So today I pose this question to them: Will oil conglomerates in the West allow their own states to shut them down as first measure before they preach to other countries?

The world needs to diversify its energy sources, I do agree. Climate change is a natural phenomenon that has been happening since the beginning of Earth, and human action cannot stop it, but it does add to it. No one denies that. However, all those wars waged by the West, with nuclear bombs tested in oceans and on land, the continued subsidizing of the coalmining and cattle raising industries, and deforestation, all of those are far more polluting than oil or gas.

The year 2030 is not the beginning of the end for oil, but it ushers in a new phase where states should act responsibly in terms of their consumption.

Saudi Arabia and other GCC states, who are energy producers, on the other hand, are working diligently based on well-planned agendas toward a greener future, with Saudi Arabia announcing its net-zero carbon plan not so long ago.

I would not go much beyond that — you can read about it in my newly published book “The Blame Game: Industrial States Vs. Oil, which speaks of the agenda-driven fight over climate change.

  • Mohammad Al-Sabban is a former senior adviser to the Saudi energy minister, and also served as head of the Saudi delegation to the UNFCCC for 30 years.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view