UAE to host COP28 with sense of responsibility, urgency as world “way off track” on climate goals


United Arab Emirates' Minister of State and CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, addresses the public at the opening session of the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum on Saturday. - AFP
United Arab Emirates' Minister of State and CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, addresses the public at the opening session of the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum on Saturday. - AFP

Published: Sat 14 Jan 2023, 8:24 PM

In his first address since being named as COP President-Designate, said Dr Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, during the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum, underlined that countries are playing catch up in trying to limit global warming to the 1.5-degrees Celsius target set in Paris.


Ashwani Kumar

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“We are way off track. The world is playing catch up when it comes to the key Paris goal of holding global temperatures down to 1.5 degrees. And the hard reality is that in order to achieve this goal, global emissions must fall 43 per cent by 2030. To add to that challenge, we must decrease emissions at a time of continued economic uncertainty, heightened geopolitical tensions and increasing pressure on energy security,” he said as top ministers and decision makers, including US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, listened with rapt attention.

“As the UAE prepares to host COP 28, this year carries a very special significance. The UAE approaches this task with humility, a clear sense of responsibility, and a great sense of urgency,” he added.

Dr Al Jaber noted that the best way to address climate challenge was by making “transformational progress”.

“We must be prepared to transform the process with the support of all parties. We want COP28 to transform systems and accelerate 2030 trajectories through game-changing partnerships, solutions, and real tangible outcomes. We want it to be a COP of solidarity that bridges the global north and south, and includes public and private sectors, scientists and civil society, women and youth. And we want it to be a practical COP, a COP of action, a COP for all, a COP that raises ambitions and moves from goals to actually getting it done across mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, and finance,” the minister said during the seventh Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum.

Dr Al Jaber said that the UAE, like other countries, is exposed to the risks of climate change. “We have always considered environmental stewardship as an integral part of our economy and view climate action as central to the successful development of our nation,” he said pointing out that the UAE is the host country of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the first in the region to commit to the Paris Agreement, the first in the region to submit a Nationally Determined Contribution, and the first to set out a roadmap to Net Zero. “And we will continue to focus on this journey,” he said during the opening event of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

Dr Al Jaber highlighted that under the guidance of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi-headquartered Masdar has grown to become one of the largest renewable energy investors in the world, and is aiming for a 100 GW portfolio by 2030.

“Over the last 15 years, the UAE has invested a total of $50 billion in renewable energy and clean tech globally and plans to invest another $50 billion in the years ahead. And today, over 70 per cent of our economy is generated outside the oil and gas sector. And as the founding CEO and Chairman of Masdar, and the CEO of ADNOC, I will continue to follow our leadership’s vision and guidance in making today’s energy cleaner, while advancing and investing in the clean energies of tomorrow. And we will use our experience, our ambition and deep and rich network of partnerships to inform our approach to COP28.”

Hold back emissions, not progress

Dr Al Jaber stressed on scaling renewables.

“We are at a turning point in history. Low carbon growth is the future. We must triple renewable energy generation from 8 to 23 terawatt hours by 2030. We must more than double low carbon hydrogen production to at least 180 million tonnes for hard to abate sectors.”

Dr Al Jaber said that the world is on its way to being home to 9.7 billion people by 2050 and will have to produce 30 per cent more energy than today. “And as long as the world still uses hydrocarbons, we must ensure they are the least carbon intensive possible. We will work with the energy industry on accelerating decarbonisation, reducing methane and expanding hydrogen. Let’s keep our focus on holding back emissions, not progress.”

Dr Al Jaber stressed on the need to protect the most vulnerable communities and critical systems from extreme weather and biodiversity loss. “We must protect our rainforests and invest in nature-based solutions like mangroves that act as powerful carbon sinks, while protecting coastlines and preserving natural ecosystems. We must ensure that our global food system is resilient to the changing weather patterns that threaten farmers around the world. And to enable this progress, we must double adaptation finance for the global south to $40 billion annually by 2025.”

The minister said that climate finance needs to be more affordable and accessible. “We need to ensure that every concessional dollar is matched by 2 or 3 dollars of private capital. To make this happen, we need to answer the call from the international community for inclusive reform of the multilateral development banks and international financial institutions. And to encourage this process, the UAE, as chair of the World Bank-IMF Development Committee, intends to play a proactive, supportive and facilitating role.”

On loss and damage, the minister highlighted a need to help the most vulnerable countries to rebuild after climate-related disasters. “Together with the international community, we must build on the progress made in Sharm El Sheikh and fully operationalise the loss and damage fund.”

Dr Al Jaber pointed out that the UAE being at the crossroads of the world can build bridges and pursue global consensus in collective effort of climate action. “We don’t claim to have all the answers. But we believe we have something valuable that we can contribute. At the crossroads of North and South, East and West, we will listen, we will engage with all those who want to engage.”

He said that together with Shamma Al Mazrui, COP28 UAE Youth Climate Champion, and Razan Al Mubarak, COP28 UAE UN Climate Change High-Level Champion, the UAE will work closely with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to “move from ambition to real action”.

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