Nearly 200 countries pledged to step up the fight against rising temperatures at the COP26 conference after two weeks of deliberations, but a “climate disaster” is looming, according to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, because they failed to establish a consensus to keep coal in the ground.

Speaking at the opening session of the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, the Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology UAE, Sultan al-Jaber, said: The summit “was indeed a success.”

He forecasts that the oil and gas industry would have to invest “over $600 billion every year until 2030 just to keep up with the expected demand.”

“While the world has agreed to accelerate the energy transition, it is still heavily reliant on oil and gas.”

“As economies bounce back from the Covid-19 pandemic at the fastest rate in 50 years, demand has outpaced supply.”

Despite announcing net-zero carbon objectives, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, have justified their plans to continue investing in fossil fuels.

“The future is coming, but it is not here yet,” said Jaber, whose country is to host COP28.

“We must make progress with pragmatism. If we are to successfully transition to the energy system of tomorrow, we cannot simply unplug from the energy system of today.”

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman retorted to opponents of Riyadh’s net-zero objectives at the Abu Dhabi conference. “I understand the scepticism,” he continued, “but I would refer those sceptics to what we’ve agreed to just two days ago.”