The Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Dr. Sanusi Barkindo, has advocated the deployment of modern technologies such as the Carbon Capture Utilisation Storage (CCUS) instead of pushing for a wholesale abandonment of fossil fuels.
Speaking at the Annual Legal Workshop of the Energy CharteSecretariat (ECS) and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), the OPEC chief noted that current conversations surrounding the transition from hydrocarbons were being driven by emotions rather than science.
Barkindo who spoke on the theme: “Update on National Climate Laws and Jurisprudence Evolution-Emissions Reduction, Energy Access and Energy Security,” said although there was clear science-based evidence, the entire climate change discussion had been reduced to who is for or against fossil fuels.
Describing it as the ultimate false dichotomy, Barkindo stressed that it erroneously limits what options are available in reducing emissions, noting that within the discussion, “we are seeing a tendency for emotion to overtake science, rationalism, empirical evidence or fact.”
He argued that achieving net zero emissions by 2050, as some countries are now advocating, is not part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or the Paris Agreement, stating it is an extremely challenging goal, even for advanced economies.
According to him, this further underlines the massive challenges for developing countries to reach net zero emissions – many of whom are focused on such issues as energy access, living wages and supplying basic necessities.
Barkindo said 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 emissions and adapt to their impact, and at the same time ensure energy access for all.
“The current turbulence in gas markets underscores the need for a diversified energy mix in a stable and equitable energy transition. We should have a holistic view of the energy sector, and not put all our eggs in one or two baskets.
“The issue of affordability is very much linked to the scourge of energy poverty, which must be considered within the context of sustainable development and the UN SDGs, with SDG7 calling for universal and sustainable energy access.
“Legislators and lawmakers need to be reminded that for billions, the day does not start by switching on a light, opening a refrigerator or turning the ignition on a car. Access to affordable and reliable modern energy is a right not a privilege as resolved at the UN –in SDG7,” he maintained.