The National - News

Kerry issues urgent call for oil producers to move quickly and support climate change goals

- Alvin Cabral

Oil-producing nations and companies have a key role in helping to eliminate harmful emissions, but the clock is ticking and not moving fast would result in the worst consequenc­es of climate change, according to John Kerry, the US special envoy for climate.

Mr Kerry, a former secretary of state under the Obama administra­tion, dismissed the notion that the oil and gas industry is at odds with proponents of action on climate change.

He said the lines of communicat­ion are always open for these industries, which have been co-operative and have joined the growing chorus of sectors supporting the need to save the environmen­t.

“The oil and gas industry has never had a hard time having its voice heard. Right now, we have tremendous co-operation with oil and gas companies, and they know there’s a transition,” he said at the fourth Global Manufactur­ing and Industrial­isation Summit in Dubai yesterday.

“The question is, will we transition fast enough to avoid the worst consequenc­es of the climate crisis?”

The energy sector is one of the largest sources of methane emissions today, with the Internatio­nal Energy Agency estimating that fossil-fuel operations emitted about 120 tonnes of methane globally in 2020, equivalent to around 3.5 gigatonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent.

Almost 45 per cent of current oil and gas methane emissions could be avoided at no net cost if technologi­es and measures can be applieed, the IEA added. Countries can also implement a set of policy tools so emissions from operations could be halved within a short time frame, it said.

With pressure mounting to adhere to climate change goals, companies are now compelled to spell out their sustainabi­lity plans in their balance sheets, something that has been done only recently, Mr Kerry said. “You see disclosure­s in financials beginning to occur, companies required to report their longterm vision with respect to climate impact investment­s … that will change the allocation of capital,” he said.

The evolving business environmen­t in relation to this would then see the overall marketplac­e – which, Mr Kerry said, is worth trillions – move into new technology as companies act to align themselves with these goals, at the same time trying to tap into new business opportunit­ies.

“People are seeing economic opportunit­y, and the money is always going to chase economic opportunit­y. There’s going to be profits; people are going to make lots of money as they move into this new economy,” he added.

The transition is already taking place and Mr Kerry stressed the diverse nature of industries and companies that have committed to climate change goals. He said the airline industry pledged that 5 per cent of the fuel it will use will be 85 per cent free of emissions.

Maersk, the world’s largest shipping operator, ordered eight carbon-neutral container ships, while Swedish car maker Volvo announced an agreement for the developmen­t, production and commercial­isation of the world’s first vehicles made of fossil-free steel. Holcim, one of the largest manufactur­ers of building materials, is now making green concrete.

“If we achieve the goal that 109 countries signed up for in the Cop26 in Glasgow for methane, we would have the equivalent by 2030 of taking all the cars, lorries, aeroplanes and ships in the world to zero by 2030 – that’s the equivalent of the 30 per cent reduction globally,” Mr Kerry said.

Mr Kerry held talks with Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change, at the recent Cop26 conference in Glasgow. The UAE will host of Cop28 in 2023.

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