COP28 President Warns Against Phasing Out Fossil Fuels: “It Would Take the World Back Into Caves”

Fossil fuel drama: “Absolutely not,” said Abdulaziz bin Salman, the Saudi Arabian minister of energy, on TV when asked if his country would agree to the fossil fuel phase-down currently being drawn up at the United Nations’ COP28 climate talks in Dubai. Abdulaziz “called out countries pushing for a phase out of fossil fuel for hypocrisy, saying that if they believed in it they should just get on with it,” reports Bloomberg. 
“I’m not naming names,” added Abdulaziz, whose country has been exploring carbon capture technology as a possible solution. “But those countries who really believe in phasing out and phasing down hydrocarbons, you should come out and put together a plan for how in starting 1st of January 2024.”
Meanwhile, the COP28 president is being raked through the coals for a soundbite questioning “the scientific basis for calls to phase out fossil fuels in order to keep global warming to 1.5 C,” per Bloomberg, part of comments Sultan Al Jaber—an oil executive who is leading this climate summit—made in late November during a debate with the former Irish president. 
“A phase down and a phase out of fossil fuel in my view is inevitable—it is essential,” said Al Jaber, “but we need to be real, serious and pragmatic about it. There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says that the phase out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5.” 
Into the caves we go: Al Jaber also
said that a full phase-out of fossil fuels would “take the world back into caves.” Some scientists and activists have not welcomed Al Jaber’s blunt realism, but have said his comments are “verging on climate denial.” 
To be sure, Al Jaber has been properly criticized for a possible conflict of interest, as he is also the CEO of the Emirati state-owned oil and gas company, ADNOC. But he’s correct to weigh tradeoffs and to point to the fact that world leaders need a more concrete plan, since toothless U.N. agreements don’t really cut it.
It was only back in 2015 that 195 countries agreed, at an earlier summit in Paris, to limit global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius to blunt the very worst impacts of climate change. But the agreement “lack[ed] an enforcement mechanism,” and “an analysis by Climate Action Tracker found that, as of 2021, none of the nations with large-scale emissions had instituted climate pledges in keeping with the 1.5-degree target,” per a New York Times analysis.
Chris Christie erasure? Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has just barely met the threshold to be present on the GOP debate stage tomorrow, per an announcement by the Republican National Committee yesterday. He will join former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, current Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and TikTok user Vivek Ramaswamy on the debate stage. Frontrunner Donald Trump will be skipping this debate, as he has done for all others this season, in favor of a fundraising event. If you have masochistic tendencies, tune in at 8 p.m. ET tomorrow.

Scenes from New York:  
I wanted to bring some holiday cheer, and write something festive, but the Columbia crazies keep derailing my plans with their straight-up Hamas apologism: 

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  • American students trail their peers globally in math scores, possibly attributable to pandemic learning disruptions. Thanks, teachers unions, very cool.
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  • Pro-Palestine protesters keep shutting down New York City’s bridges, making the city’s congestion problem even worse:
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  • China says a U.S. Navy ship sailing in the South China Sea has violated its sovereignty, per a statement from the country’s military. Commander Megan Greene of the US Seventh Fleet says that the Navy ship was “conducting routine operations in international waters” in compliance with international law.
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  • “The US is in the midst of a visa retrogression, when a surge in demand collides with annual caps, jamming up the processing queue,” reports Bloomberg. “The delays are particularly bad for the main visa category that hospitals use,” contributing to the nurse shortage that the U.S. is currently experiencing.