World leaders 'must deliver' at Cop27, says lead UAE official

Majid Al Suwaidi, director general of next year's summit, said there must be results in Egypt

Majid Al Suwaidi, director general of the UAE-hosted Cop28, speaks at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week in October. Victor Besa / The National
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A top UAE official said it was crucial the Cop27 summit in Egypt had a successful outcome, with the world's public demanding action on climate change.

Majid Al Suwaidi, director general of Cop28, said the UAE was in “listening mode” at this year’s climate summit in Sharm El Sheikh.

Speaking to The National in the Egyptian resort town on Sunday, he said it was the UAE’s job to hear where the countries stood and what they want to achieve.

The public and society are really calling for action. This process has to step up and deliver
Majid Al Suwaidi, director general, Cop28

“We really are in listening mode,” he said. “It is important to have a positive outcome as we are host country for Cop28. Our job as president is to steer this process towards a successful outcome in the UAE.”

The UN’s annual climate summit, Cop27, has opened in Egypt, with more than 120 world leaders expected to attend the crucial event in Sharm El Sheikh.

But a tough two weeks of talks lies ahead amid a challenging global landscape.

When asked about some opinions that prospects for major breakthroughs at Cop27 were gloomy, Mr Al Suwaidi said he had attended a lot of Cops and all of them had gloomy predictions at the start.

“For me that is not a barometer of whether Cop27 will be a success or not,” he said. “Our Egyptian colleagues and friends are strong, know the issues and understand well how to run the process. We followed them through the year.

“They have done a phenomenal job [and] I’m really confident they will come out with some positive outcomes.”

Mr Al Suwaidi said if leaders make enough progress over the next two weeks, that sets up the UAE well for next year’s summit.

“We often look at Cops as the singular event but there is a process that builds up. If Egypt can deliver wins on some of the issues I think that would be a real success and helpful to us.”

Mr Al Suwaidi said there was an urgency at Cop27 to make progress and he had seen it year after year.

“People [are] much more interested in practical solutions,” he said. “The public and society are really calling for action. This process has to step up and deliver.”

When asked about the difficulty of trying to make progress amid the tough geopolitical outlook and soaring inflation, he said many of the challenges are a result of climate instability.

“Look at the energy issues we face globally,” Mr Al Suwadi said.

“There is a danger this detracts from [the] pathway we set up for addressing climate change.

“If [people] are struggling and don’t have the right means to take on new technology you need and renewable energy technology that can be more expensive than conventional fossil fuels — that’s a real issue. That’s why this process is important.

“But among all the challenges, one issue we all agree is around climate change. That bodes well for this process.”

Mr Al Suwaidi said hosting Cop28 next year was a really important moment for the UAE. He said the country had a track record in protecting the environment.

“I think of anybody, I have to be looking forward to it the most. [It is] one of most important events of our new President [Sheikh Mohamed's] term.”

Updated: November 07, 2022, 11:01 AM