The United Arab Emirates (UAE) climate envoy and designated president of the Cop28 climate summit said on Tuesday that the world needed a “course correction” to limit global warming.
“We already know that we are way off track,” Sultan al-Jaber told the World Government Summit in Dubai.
“The world is playing catch-up when it comes to holding global temperatures down to 1.5 degrees and the hard reality is that global emissions must fall 43% by 2030,” he said, referring to the goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“We need a major course correction,” he added.
In spite of this, the UAE, a major oil exporter, has also called for a slower transition away from fossil fuels in the past. “The future is clean but it is not here yet,” Jaber told an oil conference in Abu Dhabi in 2021.
The country is expanding oil and gas production, which the International Energy Agency has said is incompatible with limiting global warming to 1.5C.
“Inclusive” energy transition
Jaber also heads the state oil giant Adnoc and his appointment to lead the climate summit this year fuelled activists’ worries that the fossil fuel industry was hijacking the world’s response to the global warming crisis.
But Jaber said on Tuesday his presidency would bring a much needed fresh approach to tackle climate change challenges.
“As Cop28 president, I will lay out a roadmap for Cop28 that is inclusive, results-oriented and far from business as usual,” he said.
“It is in our common interest to have the energy industry working hand in hand and alongside everyone on the solutions the world needs. This is just logical and makes sense,” Jaber said.
“We are in the UAE not shying away from the energy transition,” he claimed, “we are running towards it.”
He quoted UAE president Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan who said in 2015: “If we make the right investments today, there will come a time when the UAE would celebrate the last barrel of oil”.
Jaber told the summit: “That was a bold call to action which resonated deeply around the world and it certainly resonated with me”.
On Loss and Damage, one of the critical issues of Cop27, Jaber said “capital is critical to make the loss and damage fund real and operational and it is the key to a fair deal on climate finance for the Global South”, referring to developing nations.
The loss and damage fund, agreed to at the Cop27 conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt last year, was hailed as a breakthrough for developing countries, which could access new funding to rebuild after extreme climate change impacts.
Although it is a wealthy nation which has contributed more than most to climate change, the UAE will likely not be asked to pay into the fund as it is classified by the UN as a developing country.
Jaber also supported a push led by the primer minister of Barbados Mia Mottley to reform financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to dedicate more money to fighting climate change.
“We need real reform of international financial institutions and multilateral banks to unleash more concessional dollars, lower risk and attract more private finance to vulnerable communities,” Jaber said.
This initiative was included in the COP27 final text, which called on countries to “reform multilateral development bank practices and priorities” so they can start “adequately addressing the global climate emergency”.
Two of the World Bank’s biggest shareholders, the US and Germany, have supported some of her proposals and they will be discussed at the two institution’s annual spring meetings in April.