Lagos — The Secretary-General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, Mohammed Barkindo, says the group is not against efforts at combating climate change as it champions the course of inclusion of fossil fuels in the future energy mix.
Barkindo made the clarification at the first Ministerial Roundtable on Energy, Climate and Sustainable Development held via videoconference on Monday.
He stated that OPEC has continuously been a promoter of both sustainable development and efforts to combat climate change, with a focus on the need to utilise all solutions to reduce Green House Gas, GHG, emissions and adapt to their impact, and at the same time ensure energy access for all.
He explained that there are no climate deniers at OPEC as its members are recipients of some of the worst impacts of climate change.
“The organisation has a long history of supporting environmental issues and sustainable development, with the declaration of the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of OPEC Member Countries in Saudi Arabia in 2007, recognising not only stability of global energy markets, but energy for sustainable development and energy and the environment, putting OPEC well ahead of its time”.
OPEC and its member countries have also been directly involved in the evolution of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, whose core elements particularly equity, historical responsibility and national circumstances, Barkindo said must remain central to all processes moving forward.
He said: “The organisation has been there every step of the way — from the UN Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee in 1990, which produced the framework convention on climate change, to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992; from the first Conference of the Parties (COP1) to the UNFCCC in Berlin in 1995; to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and the Paris Agreement in 2015, to COP25 in Madrid in 2019.
“And, of course, we will be there at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, later this year.
“I have personally been involved in climate change talks since their inception, and have spent almost all of my working life in this process. I know how important it is to tackle both climate change and energy poverty, within the context of sustainable development and the UN SDGs, with SDG7 calling for universal and sustainable energy access.
“I have witnessed energy poverty first-hand in my home continent of Africa, where more than 600 million people have little or no access to electricity and 900 million lack safe and clean cooking fuels.”
He, however, said global leaders need to be reminded that access to affordable and reliable modern energy is a must for everyone.
“There are some who believe the oil and gas industries should not be part of the energy future, that they should be consigned to the past, and that the future is one that can be dominated by renewables and electric vehicles.
“We need to counter this evolving narrative,” Barkindo added.
He continued: “It is important to state clearly that the science does not tell us this, and the statistics related to the blight of energy poverty do not tell us this either. What the science and statistics tell us is that we need to reduce emissions and use energy more efficiently.
“We need to show how the oil and gas industry can foster its resources and expertise and help unlock our carbon-free future, through its role as a powerful innovator in developing cleaner and more efficient technological solutions to help reduce emissions.”