The UAE can count on support from the French government and its corporate sector to make Cop28 a huge success, not only for the UAE but also for the whole region and the planet, French Finance and Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said.
“I want to make very clear to my Emirati friends, you can count on the support of France,” he told top business executives and investors at the Abu Dhabi Global Market on Monday.
“You can count on the support of the French companies, you can count on the support of the French President and the French government to make this Cop28 a major success and a major milestone in the fight against climate change.”
The UAE is set to host the next UN Cop28 climate summit, which will start at the end of November.
The meeting of heads of state, finance and business leaders, and members of civil society, will take stock of what has been achieved since the Paris Agreement of 2015 was adopted by most countries.
The Paris summit laid the foundations limiting global warming to less than 2ºC — and preferably no more than 1.5ºC — above pre-industrial levels.
Mr Le Maire said the UAE, the Arab world’s second-largest economy, has a “huge responsibility” as the host of the global climate summit to move that climate agenda forward.
“France has had the responsibility of one decisive Cop [summit] where the Paris Agreement was signed. This was perceived as a breakthrough in the fight against climate change,” he said.
“I would like all of us to build a bridge between the Paris Cop and the Cop28 — between France and the UAE — so that this Cop28 will be a huge success for the UAE for the whole region and for our planet.”
Last year, the UAE and France signed a comprehensive strategic energy partnership, which focuses on enhancing energy security, affordability and decarbonisation, and progressive climate action before Cop28, state news agency Wam reported at the time.
Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President-designate and the UAE's special envoy on climate change, said this month that the world is “playing catch up” on efforts to tackle global warming and countries must step up and work much faster on agreed goals.
“Despite the progress that the world is making, we need to be honest with ourselves. We are way off track,” Dr Al Jaber, who is also the UAE's Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, said during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.
Mr Le Maire is on an official visit to the UAE along with chief executives of top French companies including TotalEnergies, Toulouse-based plane maker Airbus and French lender BNP Paribas, to meet investors and explore bilateral opportunities.
The visiting delegation also includes Bpifrance, Société Générale, and 15 private equity companies and fund managers.
The minister said France is keen to further expand its economic ties with the UAE and is pushing for more investments from the Emirates as it continues to pursue its €10 billion ($10.9 billion) investment target.
Efforts of the French-Emirati Business Council, which was set up last year to boost bilateral trade and strengthen economic ties across strategic sectors, will soon yield results, giving the investment drive further impetus, Mr Le Maire told journalists on the sidelines of a UAE-France investors' meeting in Abu Dhabi.
“I think that the level of the chief executives [present] is a clear signal of [our] determination to give a new impetus to the economic relationship between the UAE and France,” he said.
“We want to seize the opportunity of this new era to reinforce the economic ties,” he said, adding that efforts to boost trade and economic relations will see a “concrete outcome” in the near future as the business council builds further momentum.
The value of trade between the UAE and France rose to more than Dh256 billion ($70 billion) over the 10-year period to the end of 2021, Wam reported last year, citing data from Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre.
The value of non-oil trade between the two countries increased by 8 per cent between 2012 and 2021 to more than Dh25.2 billion.
Bilateral trade rose by 28 per cent on an annual basis in 2021, to reach Dh19.7 billion, Wam reported.
Mutual co-operation between the two sides has increased in recent years following French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the UAE in May last year and President Sheikh Mohamed’s visit to Paris in July.
The two leaders oversaw the launch of the UAE-France Business Council, which is jointly chaired by Dr Al Jaber, who is also managing director and group chief executive of Adnoc and chairman of Masdar, and Patrick Pouyanne, chairman and chief executive of France’s TotalEnergies.
The council is made up of 18 chief executives selected for their interest in strengthening economic ties between the two countries.
It held its first plenary meeting on Monday and set the framework for a comprehensive approach to boost economic ties by fast-tracking programmes with an initial focus on clean energy and climate action, transport and logistics, manufacturing, technology, and bilateral investments.
Emirati companies have already signed significant investment and co-operation agreements with their French counterparts.
Adnoc and TotalEnergies last year signed a strategic partnership agreement to explore investment opportunities across the energy value chain and collaborate in gas growth, carbon capture utilisation and storage, and trading and product supply.
Mubadala Capital, the asset management subsidiary of Mubadala, last month announced a $2.1 billion private equity partnership with French private investment house Ardian.
Under the agreement, Ardian will invest in a portfolio of high-quality private equity assets managed by Mubadala Capital. It will also make a primary commitment to Mubadala Capital’s private equity funds.
Mubadala in 2021 also signed an agreement with French public investment bank Bpifrance to expand their partnerships by an additional €4 billion, to be invested over a 10-year period.
Under the deal, each party is committing €2 billion to the French Emirati Fund (FEF) Partnership and the Innovation Partnership, Mubadala said in a statement at the time.
The second agreement between Mubadala and the French Ministry of the Economy allows the Abu Dhabi government to potentially invest €1.4 billion in funds based in France or with significant exposure to the French economy.
Mubadala’s partnerships with French companies are growing “from strength to strength” and Abu Dhabi’s sovereign investment arm is keen to expand its investment relations to “deliver value,” said Waleed Al Muhairi, deputy group chief executive of Mubadala.
“Our desire to partner with French companies is as strong as ever,” he said.
“The strategic economic co-operation between the France and the UAE, as well as our history of successfully deploying capital in the French market, underpins this belief.
“In today's economic climate, which is characterised by rapid change and uncertainty, it is vital that we strengthen relations with our strongest and most trusted partners.”