The Cop28 summit being hosted in the UAE at the end of the year needs “oil and gas at the table”, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said on Wednesday.
With global temperatures already up 1.1º Celsius since the beginning of industrialisation, “we don't have time to exclude countries or sectors”, Mr Gates said.
“We need those that are most responsible for producing and using fossil fuels to step up and make serious commitments for a clean energy future.”
The Microsoft co-founder was speaking via video to an audience of more than 1,000 policymakers, executives, entrepreneurs, investors and financiers who are in Abu Dhabi for the Climate Tech conference.
The event, hosted by the UAE Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, Adnoc and renewable energy company Masdar, comes less than seven months before Cop28 begins at Expo City Dubai on November 30.
The Cop28 President-designate is Dr Sultan Al Jaber, who is also Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Adnoc managing director and group chief executive and chairman of Masdar.
Mr Gates emphasised Dr Al Jaber's convening power in his remarks.
“Cop28 President[-designate] Dr Sultan Al Jaber promises to make Cop28 the 'Cop of solutions', one where decision makers from all sectors mobilise resources and political resolve to ensure that the net-zero commitments become a reality,” Mr Gates said.
Mr Gates founded the Breakthrough Energy Group in 2015 to identify and raise funds for promising climate technology solutions such as nuclear fission, concentrated solar power and direct air capture.
Since then, he has personally invested more than $2 billion in the initiative and raised more than $1.5 billion from businesses and charitable organisations to the end of 2022, Reuters reported.
Globally, investment in low-carbon energy technology surged to a record level of $1.1 trillion in 2022, according to BloombergNEF. However, annual investment needs to be three times higher to put the world on track to reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
“The need for collective global action to address climate change has never been greater and the UAE's role and leadership is crucial in ensuring we meet our climate goals,” Mr Gates said.
“Together, we can and must build a green Industrial Revolution, one that mitigates climate change, protects local communities and puts the world on a path towards more progress.”
Mr Gates also implored attendees to drive investment towards addressing and adapting to climate change.
“The fact that you're here demonstrates that you understand that decarbonising our economy will be the biggest challenge we collectively face,” he said.
“I encourage each of you to help drive investment in action that meaningfully reduces emissions and adapt to the changes that are ongoing.”