• Petersberg Climate Dialogue sees tension on display on views of continued fossil fuel use, while climate finance on the agenda

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

The tension between those wishing for a rapid end to fossil fuel use and those seeing a carbon-capture-enabled future for such conventional fuels has continued to play out at a high level, this time at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin, which hosted incoming COP28 president Sultan al-Jaber (also head of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) along with various government ministers from different countries.

German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock stated at the Dialogue that “We have to get out of fossil fuels, we have to dramatically reduce emissions,” while Danish minister for global climate policy Dan Jørgensen noted concerns “about making sure [CCS] does not become an excuse for not making the [energy] transformation we need,” adding that he does not think CCS should be dismissed. Most succinctly, he said that “[CCS] should not be seen as something we do instead of replacing fossils with renewables”.

Tasneem Essop, head of the Climate Action Network, meanwhile, stated that “We cannot pretend the solutions to the climate crisis lie with unreliable, untested techno-fixes that will bring new risks and threats.” Tina Stege, climate envoy for the climate-precarious Marshall Islands, said that the “fossil fuel era has to come to an end,” while Chile’s environment minister, Maisa Rojas, was of a similar opinion, saying that Chile wants “a phase out”, and that “We want to make sure if we add new energy, we are taking the old dirty energy out of the system.”

For his part, Sultan al-Jaber said that fossil fuels would “continue to play a role in the foreseeable future”, that the world should maintain “all sources of energy,” and that the aim should be “focused on phasing out emissions…while allowing socio-economic progress.” He also said that “If we’re serious about mitigating climate change and reducing in a practical manner emissions we must scale up carbon capture technologies.”

The spectrum of views reflects to some extent the economic importance of fossil fuels and renewables in each country. Chile has some of the best renewable energy conditions in the world, while the UAE’s economy is currently heavily dependent on fossil fuels. The view of Mr Jørgensen, that CCS with fossil fuels should not be seen as a replacement for renewables, is maybe the most pragmatic climate-positive ground, and perhaps the one that would find the widest consensus amongst nations.

Mr al-Jaber also used his attendance at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue to call for a renewed effort to “supercharge climate finance, making it more available, more accessible, and more affordable to drive delivery across every climate pillar. Public, multilateral, and private sectors must be mobilised in new and innovative ways on the critical issue of climate finance.”