UAE's Sultan Al Jaber says 'we're playing catch up to keep 1.5°C alive'

Cop28 President-designate issues call to action as Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week opens

Dr Sultan Al Jaber speaks on the opening morning of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
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Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President-designate and the UAE's special envoy on climate change, has said the world is “playing catch up” on efforts to tackle global warming.

Speaking on the first day of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, he told an audience that 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,” said Dr Al Jaber, who is also the UAE's Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology.

“We need to go much further and much faster. We’re playing catch-up in our efforts to keep 1.5°C alive.”

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We share the risks of rising temperatures alongside all countries. And alongside all countries, we share the ambition to make transformational, game-changing progress - and to get ahead of the future
Dr Sultan Al Jaber

At previous United Nations-led Cop summits, world leaders have committed to limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels — which means cutting greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030.

Action has been slow, with the world's biggest 20 economies, responsible for 80 per cent of emissions, facing increasing pressure to act on their pledges.

“We need to reverse emissions while moving economies forward, enable an inclusive and just transition that leaves no one behind,” Dr Al Jaber said.

“That’s why we are determined to make Cop28 a Cop for All, and a Cop of Action.”

Dr Al Jaber told an audience, which included South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol and President Sheikh Mohamed, that this year's sustainability week would require new thinking and greater ambition, ahead of Cop28 in the Emirates in November and December.

“This year’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week carries a special significance because it is the year that we host Cop28, in a critical decade for climate progress,” he said.

“The UAE approaches this role with humility, a deep sense of responsibility and a great sense of urgency.

“We share the risks of rising temperatures alongside all countries. And alongside all countries we share the ambition to make transformational, game-changing progress … and to get ahead of the future.”

Dr Al Jaber said the UAE rises to challenges “by getting ahead of the future”.

“The transformational progress we have managed to achieve in only 50 years has been anchored by the principle and practice of genuine partnership,” he added.

“Before anyone in this region saw a future in renewables, the UAE saw them as the future.”

Mr Yoon also addressed the audience, urging all nations to work together to achieve carbon neutrality in his keynote speech.

Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, was among the high-level guests present.

Updated: January 16, 2023, 2:58 PM