COP28: OPEC, AEC oppose Western-driven anti-fossil fuels policy

THE Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the African Energy Chamber (AEC) have called on African countries to reject any anti-fossil fuel policy being pushed by developed countries and fiercely defend the role of oil and gas.

The OPEC and AEC made the call against the backdrop of the conversations at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), which started on November 30 and would end on December 12, 2023.

Developed countries are pushing their views for an anti-fossil fuel energy transition that does not consider the needs of developing countries like in the African continent at the conference.

If endorsed, this approach will cause detrimental impacts on Africa’s economies, AEC said on Saturday, December 9, urging African countries to reject any anti-fossil fuel policy that may arise.

“The hypocritical, biased and unjust climate agenda poses a direct threat towards Africa’s development, and countries should remain resilient in their efforts to defend their right to utilise oil and gas,” AEC said.

Earlier on December 8, the Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Haitham Al Ghais, issued a similar remark, urging member countries to reject any agreements that target fossil fuels during the climate negotiations.

He said focus should be placed on reducing emissions rather than reducing energy.

“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.

“What we will continue to advocate for is reducing emissions, not choosing energy sources. The world requires major investments in all energies, including hydrocarbons, all technologies, and an understanding of the energy needs of all peoples. Energy transitions must be just, fair and inclusive,” Al Ghais urged.

According to AEC, the African continent has not only contributed the least to global greenhouse gas emissions – less than two per cent – but faces the worst impacts from climate change, owing mainly to the actions taken by developed countries for centuries.

It pointed out that Africa’s oil and gas resources had been extracted and exported for decades to benefit wealthy nations. While the continent had been left with inadequate resources to meet its growing demand, rich countries had not only used the resources to develop but positioned themselves financially and infrastructurally ready to transition away from fossil fuels.

AEC said that Africa was trying to take the same path and was being directed to abandon an approach taken by those before it.

“With oil and gas, Africa is seizing control of its energy future. By directing substantial investments towards these resources, the continent will not only be able to bolster industrialisation, alleviate energy poverty and join the world in its development but also strengthen its capacity to deal with climate change.

“By phasing out fossil fuels, Africa will not only reduce its inconsequential emissions, but essential phase out energy in almost its entirety. Remember, the main sources of energy in Africa are oil (42 per cent), gas (28 per cent) and coal (22 per cent). If Africa were to phase out these resources, it would be transitioning from dawn to darkness,” the chamber submitted.



    In the report, AEC’s Executive Chairman, NJ Ayuk, said, “…A year on, we are faced with the same threat: developed nations telling the world to abandon fossil fuels, thereby abandoning any chances of economic growth. Africa cannot afford to adopt the Western-centric energy transition. Doing so would eliminate any chance of making energy poverty history, industrialising economies and improving the lives of millions of people.”

    Africa contributes less to emissions but mostly impacted 

    According to Statista, a data gathering platform, Africa accounts for 3.9 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels and industry in 2021 – the smallest share among all world’s regions.

    But, while the continent contributes negligibly to the changing climate and global emissions, it stands out disproportionately as the most vulnerable region globally, according to the UN Environmental Programme.

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