The COP28 UAE President Sultan Al Jaber hit back at claims, saying that he has and always “respected the science” regarding climate change and the “urgent need to get to net zero by 2050 and reduce global emissions by 43% by 2030.”

Al Jaber made the statement while addressing a news conference, which was held a day after British daily The Guardian ran a story quoting the COP28 President as refuting the science behind a phase out of fossil fuels, which is needed to restrict global heating to 1.5C.

“I have been crystal clear about this from the beginning, and we have been laser focused on achieving the goals we had set out with,” Al Jaber said. “I have been very clear about my job, that my North Star continues to be 1.5C and keeping it within reach. That will not change.

“I have said over and over, the phase down and phase out of fossil fuels is inevitable and essential. But it needs to be done in an orderly, fair, just, and responsible manner and it and needs to be well managed. I am quite surprised at the constant attempt to undermine this message.”

Al Jaber also said, COP28 was the first presidency that actively called on parties to include all fossil fuels in the negotiating text. “One statement taken out of context with misinterpretation gets maximum coverage. I respect facts and numbers, and these are the facts on the ground,” he said, stating that in 3.5 days since the beginning of the UN Climate Summit, over $57 billion in new pledges and commitments had been recorded.

“We also brought together the US and China in an unprecedented commitment to reduce methane and other CO2 gases. Tackling methane will have massive near-term impact and that is why it is on the top of my agenda,” he added.

Al Jaber also said that so far, eight new declarations have been announced at COP28, including the Global Decarbonisation Alliance that has seen 50 oil and gas companies commit to zero methane emission by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050.

“There additional decelerations will be shared in the next few days on hydrogen, cooling and gender,” he added.

(Reporting by Bindu Rai, editing by Seban Scaria)