India’s “pro-growth” and “pro-climate” agenda presents a significant economic opportunity, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, President-designate of Cop28, said.
“As India’s economy surges, it is dealing with the fundamental question that the whole world faces,” Dr Al Jaber, who is also the Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, said at the India Energy Week in Bengaluru on Tuesday.
“How to adopt policies that are pro-growth and pro-climate at the same time. How to provide for a world that will consume 30 per cent more energy by 2050, while protecting our planet. In short, how to hold back emissions, not progress.”
India, which aims to become net-zero by 2070, plans to produce 500 gigawatts of non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030.
The country, Asia's third-largest economy, also plans to produce 5 million tonnes of green hydrogen annually by 2030, with the potential to reach 10 million tonnes as export markets grow.
“Last year, despite an ongoing war, fears of recession and a world still recovering from Covid, annual global investment in clean energy exceeded $1 trillion for the first time,” said Dr Al Jaber.
Calling India’s renewable energy targets “very achievable”, he said the UAE was keen to partner with the country to advance clean energy.
“We have spent the last two decades diversifying our energy portfolio and we need everyone on this journey with us, so that together we can triple global renewable energy capacity over the next seven years.”
Investment in renewable energy needs to double to more than $4 trillion by the end of the decade to meet net-zero emissions targets by 2050, the International Energy Agency said in its World Energy Outlook last year.
The IEA’s stated policies scenario (Steps), which is based on the latest policy settings worldwide, expects clean energy investment to rise to slightly more than $2 trillion by 2030.
Dr Al Jaber also said that clean energy policies should take into consideration the needs of people in the Global South, which includes Latin America, Asia, Africa and Oceania.
“We must empower the Global South, where almost 800 million people have no electricity, in an inclusive energy transition,” said Dr Al Jaber.
“And we need to move from talking about goals, to getting the job done.”
He also highlighted the complexity of the energy transition as a “system-wide rewiring” of global economies and noted that despite the “impressive” growth of wind and solar power, renewable energy by itself would not be sufficient.
“Without a breakthrough in battery storage, we must invest heavily in carbon capture, nuclear power and the hydrogen value chain. But spending on these fundamental enablers of decarbonisation are less than 5 per cent of what is spent on renewables.”
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.
The UAE, Opec’s third-largest oil producer, is pursuing goals to reduce its carbon footprint and last year, became the first country in the Middle East to set a net-zero target, which it aims to achieve by 2050.
The Emirates plans to invest $160 billion in clean and renewable energy sources over the next three decades.
It is building the Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park in Dubai with a five-gigawatt capacity. Abu Dhabi, which is developing a two-gigawatt solar plant in its Al Dhafra region, has set a target of 5.6 gigawatts of solar PV capacity by 2026.
“The task ahead is enormous. It represents the biggest shift in human development across every aspect of our lives, from the way we produce and use energy, to how we grow our food, conserve our water and preserve our natural ecosystems,” said Dr Al Jaber.
“The UAE Cop presidency is listening and ready to engage. Let us meet this challenge together. Let us turn it into the opportunity of our lifetimes. And let’s make transformational, inclusive and lasting progress.”