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Business News/ News / World/  COP28: OPEC's 'leaked letter' leaves France, Spain 'stunned' and 'disgusted' | Here's why
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COP28: OPEC's 'leaked letter' leaves France, Spain 'stunned' and 'disgusted' | Here's why

OPEC Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais reportedly sent a letter to OPEC members, urging them to block any phase-out or phase-down of fossil fuel use in the final COP28 deal.

COP28: OPEC Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais sent a letter to the group's 13 members on Wednesday.Premium
COP28: OPEC Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais sent a letter to the group's 13 members on Wednesday.

France said it is "stunned" and 'angry' after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) push on fossil fuels at COP28 in Dubai. Meanwhile, a Spanish minister slammed it as "disgusting". So, why is OPEC facing the ire of these countries?

The OPEC drew flak after it allegedly urged its group members to block any phase-out or phase-down in the final deal, Reuters and the Associated Press reported.

According to reports, OPEC Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais sent a letter to the group's 13 members and 10 Russian-led allies on Wednesday. In the letter, Ghais urged the group to "proactively reject any text or formula that targets energy i.e. fossil fuels rather than emissions", news agency AFP reported.

"I avail of this opportunity to respectfully urge all esteemed OPEC Member Countries and Non-OPEC Countries participating in the CoC and their distinguished delegations in the COP 28 negotiations to proactively reject any text or formula that targets energy i.e. fossil fuels rather than emissions," the letter seen by Reuters read.

It added, "While OPEC Member Countries and Non-OPEC Countries participating in the Charter of Cooperation (CoC) are taking climate change seriously and have a proven record on climate actions, it would be unacceptable that politically motivated campaigns put our people’s prosperity and future at risk."

This letter was sent after negotiators at COP28 talks in Dubai released the COP28 draft deal - Global Stocktake. The new draft deal includes a range of options from agreeing to a "phase-out of fossil fuels in line with best available science", to phasing out "unabated fossil fuels", to including no language on them at all.

There has been no comment from the OPEC so far. However, Al Ghais said OPEC wanted to keep the focus of the talks on reducing emissions, as opposed to picking energy sources.

"The world requires major investments in all energies, including hydrocarbons," he was quoted by Reuters as saying. "Energy transitions must be just, fair and inclusive," he added.

Meanwhile, French Energy Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said on Saturday that "OPEC's position endangers the most vulnerable countries and the poorest populations who are the first victims of this situation".

At least 80 countries are demanding a COP28 deal that calls for an eventual end to fossil fuel use. But they face a struggle to persuade countries that rely on oil and gas for revenue.

Fossil fuels are the top source of planet-warming emissions. Winding down the production and consumption of fossil fuels is crucial to achieving the global goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

OPEC under fire: Who's saying what?

The letter drew anger from activists and the High Ambition Coalition, a broad group of nations ranging from Barbados to France, Kenya and Pacific island states.

"Nothing puts the prosperity and future of all people on Earth, including all of the citizens of OPEC countries, at greater risk than fossil fuels," said Tina Stege, climate envoy for the Marshall Islands, which chairs the coalition.

Leaders of a few countries also slammed the move.

On Saturday, Spanish ecology transition minister Teresa Ribera called OPEC's bid to block any phase-out of fossil fuels at UN climate negotiations in Dubai "disgusting".

"I think that it is quite, quite a disgusting thing that OPEC countries are pushing against getting the bar where it has to be," Spanish ecology transition minister Teresa Ribera, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, was quoted by AFP as saying.

Meanwhile, French Energy Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher was quoted as saying, "I am stunned by these statements from OPEC. And I am angry."

The French minister said she was "counting on the presidency of the COP not to be influenced by these declarations, and to reach an agreement which affirms a clear objective of phasing out fossil fuels".

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Published: 09 Dec 2023, 03:28 PM IST
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