The UAE’s Dr Sultan al-Jaber, President-designate of the COP28 climate conference, said this year’s talks must be a ‘COP of action’ saying the world is “way off track” achieving the climate goals laid out under the 2015 Paris Agreement.
In his first speech since being given the head role of this year’s climate talks – to be staged in November at Dubai Expo City, al-Jaber said COP28 must be an inclusive, action-oriented approach to transform systems and accelerate trajectories in the fight against climate change, state news agency WAM reported on Saturday.
COP28, the annual successor to COP27 in Egypt last year, will aim to advance action to reduce emissions responsible for global warming and deal with the consequences of climate change, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Speaking at the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum, Dr al-Jaber, also the UAE’s Special Envoy for Climate Change and CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) said that the UAE had “a clear sense of responsibility and a great sense of urgency” when it came to hosting COP28 and helping to build global ambition and accelerate action on climate change. He underscored the critical need to make up progress to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
“We don’t need to wait for the Global Stocktake to know what it will say. We are way off track. The world is playing catchup 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 percent by 2030,” Dr al-Jaber said.
While recognizing the threat of climate change, Dr al-Jaber emphasized the immense economic benefits of investing in clean energy and climate action, pointing to the UAE as a success story in that regard.
He noted 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.
“Today, over 70 percent of our economy is generated outside the oil and gas sector. And as the CEO of ADNOC and the founding CEO and Chairman of Masdar, 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 network of partnerships to inform our approach to COP28,” Dr al-Jaber said.
Dr al-Jaber cited the vision of the UAE’s president as being instrumental to the country’s regional and global leadership in climate action and its role as a global advocate for clean energy.
“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.”
“We want COP28 to transform systems and accelerate 2030 trajectories through game-changing partnerships, solutions, and 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.”
On mitigation, Dr al-Jaber called for scaling up of renewables, nuclear energy, hydrogen, carbon capture, energy efficiency, the least carbon intensive oil and gas as well as new technologies yet to be deployed.
“Wind and solar added record growth of 550 gigawatts between 2020 and 2022 and are on course to grow more over the next five years than over the last twenty combined. The market is telling us something. We are at a turning point in history. Low carbon growth is the future. But we must get there much faster.
“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 tons for hard to abate sectors. We also need to transform our food and agriculture systems because we know that agriculture accounts for one-third of global emissions.”
“Much greater investment in agri-tech, smarter water use and food production is needed to transform this critical sector, alongside all others. And we need to do all this in an accelerated time frame against a fast-approaching deadline. Our world is on its way to being home to 9.7 billion people by 2050 and will have to produce 30 percent more energy than today. And as long as the world still uses hydrocarbons, we must ensure they are the least carbon intensive possible,” Dr al-Jaber said, as he stressed the need to focus on holding back emissions, not progress.
Dr al-Jaber called for adaptation finance for the Global South to be doubled to $40 billion annually by 2025 and said 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,” Dr al-Jaber said.
On loss and damage, Dr al-Jaber urged the world to help the most vulnerable to rebuild after climate-related disasters, build on the progress made in Sharm El Sheikh and fully operationalize the loss and damage fund.
He concluded by saying that the UAE, as hosts of COP28, and at the crossroads of North and South, East and West, will listen, engage with all those who want to engage, build bridges and pursue global consensus in this collective effort.
“Let me extend an open invitation to all parties across government, the private sector and civil society. Cooperate, collaborate, share your ideas and talk to us. Together, let’s create a paradigm shift for tangible progress. And let’s remember that reaching net-zero emissions will deliver the biggest market transformation with the greatest economic and human promise since the First Industrial Revolution.”
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