Countries at this year’s UN climate summit must face up to how far behind they are lagging on climate change targets and agree a plan to get on track, the United Arab Emirates’ incoming president of the event said on Thursday.
In a speech laying out the country’s plan for the COP28 summit, to be held in Dubai in November, Sultan al-Jaber said the event should also yield international goals to triple renewable energy, double energy savings and hydrogen production by 2030.
“We must be brutally honest about the gaps that need to be filled, the root causes and how we got to this place here today,” Jaber told a meeting in Brussels of climate ministers and officials from countries including Brazil, China, the United States and European Union members.
“Then we must apply a far-reaching, forward-looking, action-oriented and comprehensive response to address these gaps practically,” he said.
The Cop28 summit will be the first formal assessment of countries’ progress towards the Paris Agreement’s target to limit climate change to 1.5 Celsius of warming. Countries’ current policies and pledges would fail to meet that goal.
“We can’t afford a meaningless stocktake. This is about accountability of our previous, present and future updates,” Canadian Climate Minister Steven Guilbeault told Thursday’s meeting.
The assessment at Cop28 – known as the Global Stocktake – will increase pressure on major emitters to update their actions to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Al-Jaber appointed Denmark’s climate minister Dan Joergensen and South Africa’s climate minister Barbara Creecy to co-ordinate discussions on the response to the stocktake.
Jaber said all governments should update their emissions-cutting targets by September, which the UAE did last month.
The UAE, a major oil exporter, has been under pressure to lay out its vision for the Cop28 summit and guide preparations among the nearly 200 countries expected to attend.
A round of preparatory United Nations climate negotiations in Bonn in June yielded little progress. Countries spent days wrangling over issues including whether to even discuss urgent CO2-cutting action – known in U.N. jargon as the “mitigation work programme”.
Jaber, who is also the head of UAE state-owned oil company Adnoc, said the Cop28 summit also aims to establish a promised fund to compensate poorer countries where climate change is inflicting irreparable damage.
Countries finally agreed at last year’s UN climate talks to form the “loss and damage” fund – but left the toughest decisions for later, including which countries should pay into it.
Finance has dominated recent climate negotiations, as poorer nations demand greater support to both invest in low-carbon energy and cope with spiralling costs from droughts, floods and rising sea levels.
Jaber called for a “comprehensive transformation” of international financial institutions to unlock more capital to tackle climate change – echoing ideas put forward by climate-vulnerable nations including the Barbados-led “Bridgetown Initiative” to reform multilateral finance institutions.