'Let's end finger-pointing': UAE's COP28 chief spotlights realistic 'practical solutions' to cut carbon emissions

Major international climate event kicks off in Abu Dhabi — 205 days before the UAE hosts COP28


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Wed 10 May 2023, 7:29 PM

Last updated: Tue 20 Jun 2023, 11:04 AM

The COP28 president-designate has called for collective action to transform, decarbonise, and future-proof economies as he addressed more than 1,500 policymakers, experts, and industry leaders at the UAE Climate Tech on Wednesday.

“This forum aims to use the power of technology to turn one of the greatest challenges we face today into one of the greatest opportunities for sustainable socio-economic development. And with just 205 days to COP28, everyone in this room is critical to making the transformational progress we need… for our climate, for our societies and for our economies – all at the same time,” said Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, who also serves as the UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology.

Noting that the world is way off track to meet the climate goals laid out in the Paris Agreement, Dr Al Jaber called for a “course correction”.

“We need to translate what we agree inside the COP negotiation rooms into practical actions in the real world. We need to find a way to hold back emissions, not progress. We need breakthrough solutions. And the single most critical source of these solutions is technology,” he said.

The two-day UAE Climate Tech kicked off at the Abu Dhabi Energy Centre, aiming to boost the momentum in accelerating efforts to reduce emissions by at least 43 percent by 2030.

While on a five-month tour to hear the views from the global south, major economies, civil society and the business community, Dr Al Jaber has seen some smart government policies and met investors who are ready to commit capital.

“The potential is there, but the landscape is fragmented and this is simply slowing us down. What is missing is a holistic, unifying ecosystem that brings all the key players together and brings everything under one umbrella,” he said, while highlighting the importance of the Climate Tech event.

“This forum aims to provide a platform to make better connections and help create the enabling ecosystem… so that together, we can transform, decarbonise, and future-proof our economies.”


Held ahead of the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), the UAE Climate Tech will profile technology, innovation, and investment opportunities while showcasing an array of technologies — including carbon capture, AI, robotics, digitalisation, hydrogen, alternative fuels and new and low-carbon energy solutions — from more than 60 companies. Many of these firms will be making their first foray into the UAE.

The event will also highlight the UAE’s efforts in spearheading innovations and development to accelerate decarbonisation and create the green industries of the future.

Slashing 25b tonnes of emissions

The UAE’s Special Envoy for Climate Change underlined that with the right policies stimulating the right investments, climate technologies could at-least double their contribution to global growth, while removing up to 25 billion tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

“By leveraging climate technologies, we can build a new economic development model based on putting an end to emissions, while breathing new life into economic growth.”

The minister said that despite the growth of renewable energy, majority of emissions cannot be solved by renewables alone, particularly in heavy-emitting industries.

“There are more than 5,000 cement, steel, and aluminium plants in the world today that together make up more than 30 per cent of global emissions. None of them can run on renewable energy alone.”

Dr Al Jaber highlighted the critical role of hydrogen and carbon-capture in enabling a responsible and pragmatic energy transition.

“Here is where solutions like hydrogen can play a role, but it needs to be scaled up and commercialised to make a real impact in the energy system. If we are serious about curbing industrial emissions, we need to get serious about carbon-capture technologies. In any realistic scenario that gets us to net zero, carbon capture technology will have a role to play. Without it, the math just doesn’t add up.”

He stressed on the importance of continuing to invest in nuclear energy and push for breakthroughs in battery storage, before moving on to the need for cooperation between agriculture and technology to drive down global emissions.

“The UAE is emerging as a leader in agri-tech, vertical farming, and the use of digital technologies to reduce energy and water use while increasing crop yields in harsh environments.”

Dr Al Jaber pointed out that he called on the oil and gas industry to zero out methane emissions by 2030 and align around comprehensive net zero plans by or before 2050.

“We need to phase out emissions from all sectors, including transportation, agriculture, heavy industry and, of course, fossil fuels, while investing in technologies to phase up all viable zero-carbon alternatives.

"For this to happen faster, we need to reimagine the relationship between producers and consumers. From one based purely on supply and demand… to a relationship that is focused on co-creating the future. We must create an active partnership between the largest producers of energy, the biggest industrial consumers, technology companies, the finance community, governments and civil society."

Dr Al Jaber stressed the urgent need for a responsible and pragmatic energy transition that is laser-focused on phasing out fossil fuel emissions while phasing up all viable zero-carbon alternatives while ensuring that the Global South is not left behind.

“While the historic Paris Agreement united governments around what the world must do to meet the climate challenge, COP 28 will focus on the 'how'. We want COP 28 to be a COP of practical action and pragmatic results, a COP of solutons, a COP of impact and a COP for all,” the minister said.

“Let’s end the finger-pointing and point to actions and targets and let’s point to a brighter future," he added.

"Together, let’s create a low-carbon pathway to a high-growth destination, because together is the only way we will get it done.”

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