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COP28: the Dubai agreement will have little impact on the oil industry in the Gulf | COP28: climate summit in Dubai

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Despite the transition towards green energies, specialists estimate that the countries of the Persian Gulf will continue to exploit black gold “for decades”.

Agence France-Presse

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The agreement adopted Wednesday at COP28 in Dubai on a gradual abandonment of fossil fuels, presented as potentially a milestone, will have little impact in the short term on the oil industry in the Persian Gulf, say officials and specialists.

The influential Saudi Minister of Energy, whose country is the world's leading oil exporter, hastened from the start ;adoption of the text to minimize its scope in a statement to the latest addition to the Saudi channels Al Arabiya Business.

Prince Abdel Aziz ben Salamane stressed that this agreement would have no impact on his country's exports. According to him, the text imposes nothing on producing countries and allows them to reduce their emissions according to their means and interests.

This is not an agreement on the immediate or gradual elimination of fossil fuels, but a transition process, he stressed.

The prince had previously strongly opposed the inclusion in the agreement of a reduction in fossil fuels. Ultimately, the agreement omitted any mention of phasing out or phasing out these energies.

COP28: climate summit in Dubai

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COP28: climate summit in Dubai

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The agreement which appeases nearly 200 countries is the result of compromises negotiated by the Emirati president of COP28, Sultan Al Jaber, who is also boss of the national oil company ADNOC.

The UAE's official news agency, WAM, called the text a win-win agreement and saw COP28 as a watershed moment in the fight against change climate.

The French Minister of Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher highlighted a victory for multilateralism and climate diplomacy.

According to her, the use of the term transition away from fossil fuels is a very elegant way on the part of the various negotiators to find a way out for all parties […] no one loses face and it's the climate and the planet who benefit from it.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, large oil producers, are also investing in renewable energies and say they want to decarbonize their economies.

Like other producers, such as the United States, they are strengthening their production capacities to cope with the expected increase in request.

However, the economic opportunities of the energy transition are not being ignored by the Gulf monarchies, according to analysts.

They will continue to produce and export energy oil for decades, Ben Cahill, a senior fellow at the energy security and climate change program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told AFP.

But the Emirates is also investing to create a more diversified energy system and sees itself as a global player in financing the energy transition, he said.

Middle East expert Andreas Krieg saw the agreement as an important, trend-setting statement.

I think this is a shift in discourse for the Gulf States, who understand that the intention to phase out fossil fuels will be balanced by relatively stable demand of oil and certainly gas in the coming decades outside developed countries, he said.

Cinzia Bianco, a researcher at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said it was a million-dollar question whether Saudi Arabia had joined the deal.

The United Arab Emirates benefits from fossil fuel production, but it has already embarked on this transition, well ahead of other producers, she said.

It was easier for them to adhere to the agreement while the Saudis were not inclined, to the same extent, to a compromise position.

According to Krieg, the initial Saudi position must be seen in light of growing competition among Gulf countries.

However, because the global consensus was so strong and overwhelming, Saudi Arabia did not want to find itself isolated.

For Kristian Ulrichsen, Middle East fellow at the Baker Institute in Houston, Texas, COP28 had particular importance for the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE invested a lot of political and diplomatic favors in COP28 and wanted precisely this type of historic declaration that would involve the UAE in setting the agenda and building a new consensus for the way forward, he said.

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