Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser

Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser speaks during the CERAWeek oil summit in Houston, Texas on March 18, 2024.

(Photo: Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images)

Industry Elites Applaud Saudi Aramco CEO for Calling Oil Phaseout a 'Fantasy'

"The fossil fuel industry has always pursued a strategy of delay when it comes to the climate crisis," said one campaigner. "First, it was focused on casting doubt on the science. Now, it's all about casting doubt on the solutions."

The CEO of the world's largest oil company said Monday that calls to phase out fossil fuels are a "fantasy" that policymakers should abandon, a remark that drew applause from energy elites gathered in Houston, Texas for a major industry conference.

"We should abandon the fantasy of phasing out oil and gas and instead invest in them adequately reflecting realistic demand assumptions," Saudi Aramco chief executive Amin Nasser told CERAWeek attendees, dismissing the International Energy Agency's projection that global fossil fuel demand will peak by 2030.

"Peak oil and gas is unlikely for some time to come, let alone 2030," Nasser said, suggesting oil consumption could continue growing through 2045. That scenario would serve the interests of Saudi Aramco, which in 2022 posted the largest-ever annual profit for a fossil fuel company.

Power Shift Africa, a climate think tank, called Nasser's comments "outrageous."

Jamie Henn, director of Fossil Free Media, noted that "the fossil fuel industry has always pursued a strategy of delay when it comes to the climate crisis."

"First, it was focused on casting doubt on the science," he observed. "Now, it's all about casting doubt on the solutions."

"It's clear that not only are they not committed to reducing emissions, they've actually come to CERAWeek to continue promoting fossil fuel production and extraction and delaying the transition to a just, clean energy future."

Climate scientists say that a rapid, global transition away from fossil fuel production and toward renewable energy is necessary to avert the worst of the planetary emergency, which is driving increasingly destructive and deadly extreme weather events, sea-level rise, ocean warming, and other alarming phenomena.

But Nasser claimed technologies such as carbon capture—which has repeatedly proven to be ineffective and even harmful—are better at lowering emissions than "alternative energies," Reutersreported. Nasser specifically criticized wind, solar, and electric vehicles and said that "we should phase in new energy sources and technologies when they are genuinely ready, economically competitive, and with the right infrastructure."

Just one day after Nasser's remarks, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released a report showing that "renewable energy generation, primarily driven by the dynamic forces of solar radiation, wind, and the water cycle, has surged to the forefront of climate action for its potential to achieve decarbonization targets."

The WMO said Tuesday that renewable energy capacity increased nearly 50% last year compared to 2022.

But the continued production and burning of fossil fuels is wreaking global havoc, the WMO found, pushing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions and temperatures to all-time highs.

In the face of such alarming findings, the major oil and gas industry players have rolled back their own weak emissions commitments and—in the case of ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods—blamed the public for fueling the climate crisis.

"For years we've demanded action, not empty words, from Big Oil," Josh Eisenfeld, campaign manager of corporate accountability, said in a statement before the Houston conference kicked off on Monday. "If you look at their actions, it's clear that not only are they not committed to reducing emissions, they've actually come to CERAWeek to continue promoting fossil fuel production and extraction and delaying the transition to a just, clean energy future."

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