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UAE rulers welcome successful bid to host COP28, promise accelerated climate action

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Rulers in the United Arab Emirates have welcomed the news that the UAE and Egypt will host the next two UN Climate Change Conferences in successive years.

Egypt has officially been selected to host the UN Climate Change Conference in November 2022 (COP27) while the UAE will host COP28 in 2023, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has officially announced.

Both Middle Eastern countries were announced as the successors to host the climate change summit during COP26, where nearly 200 countries have gathered in Glasgow, in the United Kingdom, to take concerted action to cap global greenhouse gas emissions and unite against climate change.

An advertising board is seen during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 7, 2021. (File photo: Reuters)
An advertising board is seen during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 7, 2021. (File photo: Reuters)

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The Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh will host COP27 “on behalf of African nations,” President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said in a speech at the COP26 in Glasgow earlier in November.

In the UAE, the UNFCCC confirmation followed unanimous endorsement by the Asia Pacific Group of nations.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, said the UAE is honored to have been selected as the host country for COP28 in 2023.

“We look forward to working with the international community to accelerate global efforts to address climate change & environmental protection & create a more sustainable economic future,” Sheikh Mohamed tweeted.

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, welcomed the announcement of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of the UAE as host of the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) in 2023, state news agency WAM reported.

Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid at a Cabinet meeting at Expo 2020 Dubai. (Twitter)
Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid at a Cabinet meeting at Expo 2020 Dubai. (Twitter)

Sheikh Mohammed tweeted: “We congratulate the UAE for winning bid to host COP28 conference in 2023. It is the most important international climate conference. A well deserved success for our country. The UAE remains committed to global climate action to protect the earth.”

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said: “We are pleased and honored by the UNFCCC decision to select the United Arab Emirates to host the UN Climate Change Conference in 2023 and commit ourselves as a nation to supporting the entire international community in accelerating our combined efforts to overcome the very real threat of climate change.”

“The founding father of the UAE had the highest regard for the environment, and it is his legacy which has inspired the progress we have made over the past 50 years to diversify our economy – and will continue to inspire us as we strive to safeguard the well-being of present and future generations."

“COP28 in 2023 will and must be a ‘solutions COP’ – and I am confident that the rich experience of this young, inclusive nation in advancing practical, viable and shareable solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges will again come to the fore as we host the world for the UN Climate Change Conference in two years’ time."

“The UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative, announced earlier this year, shows our own unwavering commitment to promoting climate action. Further, through new investment commitments and partnerships, we are illustrating our determination to support the world in addressing climate change.

“We look forward to welcoming the world at COP28. The voice of every nation and stakeholder will be heard, ensuring that, together, we not only help mitigate the effects of global warming, but also unlock new opportunities to realize greater prosperity and a better life for future generations.”

A holistic approach for economic progress Dr Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change, said the decision to host COP28 in the UAE is a direct result of the vision of its leadership and the commitment of its founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to sustainable development. He added that the decision is a direct reflection of the nation’s decades long commitment to progressive climate action.

UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company CEO, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, speaks alongside U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry during a visit to Jubail Mangrove Park, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates April 3, 2021. (Supplied:WAM)
UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company CEO, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, speaks alongside U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry during a visit to Jubail Mangrove Park, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates April 3, 2021. (Supplied:WAM)

He said: “We very much look forward to the opportunity of uniting the world in an effort to raise ambitions for climate action and to advance progress for humanity. COP 28 will be a crucial global stock-take, measuring how far we have come, and how far we still need to go, to fulfil the Paris Agreement. Our guiding principle for COP 28 will be inclusivity. We want to reflect the views and invite the contribution of both developed and developing countries, the public and private sectors, academics and civil society. The UAE adopts this approach, because we truly believe that partnership promotes progress.”

Dr al-Jaber congratulated the Arab Republic of Egypt for being announced as host of the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties, highlighting that the UAE will cooperate with partners everywhere to identify lessons learned in order to achieve effective results. He added that the UAE will work to ensure that all segments of society are part of this great effort to allow humanity to change course to a better future; extending an open invitation to the world to advance real climate action through inclusion, transparency and responsibility.

A man walks past a advertising in relation with the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) where world leaders discuss how to tackle climate change on a global scale, near the conference area in Glasgow Scotland, Britain October 30, 2021. (Reuters)
A man walks past a advertising in relation with the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) where world leaders discuss how to tackle climate change on a global scale, near the conference area in Glasgow Scotland, Britain October 30, 2021. (Reuters)

Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “At a time of rapidly rising climate risks that threaten all countries, we welcome the responsibility of hosting COP28, and are determined to support the international community in pursuing a practical agenda that focuses on implementation, ambition, opportunities and transformation.”

She added: “Due to our wise leadership’s vision and foresight, the UAE has become an internationally acclaimed driver of collective climate action. In 2023, world leaders will convene to tackle climate change on a global scale – and where better to do so than the United Arab Emirates, the home of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and a country that has a strong track record in hosting high-profile international events.

“At COP28, we will address the planetary and economic aftermath of climate change as two sides of the same coin, exploring solutions that put us on a path towards limiting global warming to 1.5 C and are economically viable at the same time. We are keen to share our successful approach of turning challenges into opportunities to leave a healthier planet to our children.”

“We firmly believe in young people’s right to have a say in shaping their future, and are dedicated to supporting the highest levels of youth participation in delegations and formal proceedings at COP28.”

Path-breaking initiatives at COP-26 At COP26, the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) – a major new initiative led by the UAE and US (US) with the support of over 30 governments – was officially launched. AIM for Climate announced an “early harvest” of US$4 billion of increased investment to accelerate innovation for climate-smart agriculture and food systems over the next five years.

The UAE has pledged US$1 billion of increased investment as part of this initiative, which aims to increase and accelerate agricultural and food systems innovation in support of climate action. AIM for Climate is focused on leveraging high-potential economic returns and job creation from innovation investment in a sector that employs over 2 billion people and feeds the world’s growing population.

The UAE also joined the Global Methane Pledge building on its position as one of the least methane intense nations in the world. The nation will share its capabilities and experience in best-in-class methane performance with signatories to the EU-US led initiative that aims to cut global methane emissions by 30 per cent by the end of the decade. The UAE has long acted as a regional leader in methane reduction.

Over five decades, the country has successfully reduced the volume of natural gas flared in the domestic energy sector by more than 90 per cent. In turn, the UAE’s hydrocarbon industry today holds one of the world’s lowest methane intensities of 0.01 per cent. The UAE will build on this foundation of ultra-low methane intensity in the energy sector to further improve its methane performance.

Regional countries undertaking massive renewable energy projects. UAE has emerged as a pioneer in this sector with the Masdar initiative. (AFP)
Regional countries undertaking massive renewable energy projects. UAE has emerged as a pioneer in this sector with the Masdar initiative. (AFP)

Further, IRENA and the UAE announced the Energy Transition Accelerator Financing (ETAF) Platform, a new global climate finance facility to accelerate the transition to renewable energy in developing countries. The UAE committed US$400 million in funding provided by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) toward the platform’s goal of securing a minimum of US$1 billion in total funding.

The UAE, represented by the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure (MOEI) also announced the Hydrogen Leadership Roadmap, a comprehensive national blueprint to support domestic, low-carbon industries, contribute to the country’s net-zero ambition and establish the country as a competitive exporter of hydrogen.

The Hydrogen Leadership Roadmap comprises three core objectives: unlocking new sources of value creation through exports of low carbon hydrogen, derivatives and products to key importing regions, fostering new hydrogen derivative opportunities through low-carbon steel, sustainable kerosene as well as other priority UAE industries and contributing to the UAE’s 2050 net zero commitments.

Moreover, the UAE has raised the mangrove-planting target in its second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement from 30 million to 100 million by 2030. The move consolidates the nation’s position as a global leader in nature-based climate change solutions, and will expand local mangrove forests to cover 483 square kilometers, sequestering nearly 115,000 tons of CO2 per year.

A testament to the UAE’s 30 years of positive climate action

The road to COP28 is a testament to the positive climate action initiated by the UAE for over three decades.

The UAE was the first country in the Middle East & North Africa to ratify the Paris Agreement and commit to lowering its carbon emissions. It was also a pioneer in setting the region’s first renewable energy and biodiversity conservation targets to match its climate ambitions.

Among many sustainability achievements, the UAE has brought the cost of solar energy below that of all other electricity sources and built one of the world’s first large-scale carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) facilities. It has invested close to US$17 billion in solar, wind and battery storage projects across six continents worldwide, including in 27 climate-vulnerable island nations.

The Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, which started commercial operations in April this year, will eliminate almost a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions of the UAE’s power sector once its four reactors are operational. The UAE was the first country in the Middle East & North Africa to announce a Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative – a national drive to make the country carbon-neutral by mid-century.

Following the Strategic Initiative’s launch, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) vowed to decarbonise its electrical grid at scale, starting January 2022. This bold move makes ADNOC the first oil & gas company to source up to 100 per cent of its grid power requirements from solar and nuclear energy.

The UAE’s long history of commitment to climate change started in 1989 when it first ratified the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone layer. Since then, it has joined the UNFCCC (1995) and ratified the Kyoto Protocol (2005). Two years ago, the UAE hosted the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting, attended by the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

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