The UAE has named Dr Sultan Al Jaber as President-designate of the UN Cop28 climate change summit.
The Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and UAE special envoy for climate change will take on the leading role for the crucial 13-day talks in November.
Dr Al Jaber, who is also managing director and group chief executive of Adnoc and chairman of Masdar, has emphasised the need for a pragmatic and sustainable shift away from fossil fuels, while continuing to supply millions with energy.
“This will be a critical year in a critical decade for climate action," he said in a statement.
"The UAE is approaching Cop28 with a strong sense of responsibility and the highest possible level of ambition."
The president of each Cop summit has a crucial role in setting the agenda and forging a consensus among nations.
"In co-operation with the UNFCCC and the Cop27 Presidency, we will champion an inclusive agenda that ramps up action on mitigation, encourages a just energy transition that leaves no one behind, ensures substantial, affordable climate finance is directed to the most vulnerable, accelerates funding for adaptation and builds out a robust funding facility to address loss and damage.
“In doing so, we will bring a pragmatic, realistic and solutions-oriented approach that delivers transformative progress for climate and for low carbon economic growth."
Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth, will join Dr Al Jaber’s team as the Youth Climate Champion, while Razan Al Mubarak, president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and managing director of Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, has been named UN Climate Change High-Level Champion.
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, announced the appointments on Thursday, on the directive of President Sheikh Mohamed.
The event will be a crucial stock-take following pledges made at the climate summit in Paris in 2015.
Nations have vowed to work together to limit the increase in global temperatures to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels.
Efforts to curb carbon emissions are crucial to this aim.
Dr Al Jaber added: "We will therefore take an inclusive approach that engages all stakeholders from the public and private sectors, civil society, scientific community, women, and youth. We must especially focus on how climate action can address the needs of the Global South, as those most impacted by climate change trends.”
“I sincerely believe that climate action today is an immense economic opportunity for investment in sustainable growth. Finance is the key that can unlock climate action and we are committed to supporting and facilitating the ongoing review of international financial institutions to scale up public financing, leverage private finance and improve access.
“Pragmatism and constructive dialogue must be at the forefront of our progress. As a nation at the crossroads of the globe, the UAE is well-positioned to build bridges, foster consensus and bring the world together in one shared mission to keep 1.5C alive and protect the planet for the generations who will follow us."
John Kerry, US Special Envoy for Climate, congratulated the UAE on social media on Thursday evening, and said that “this diverse team will lead the UAE’s Cop 28 presidency … and help coalesce a vision and plan for what must happen.” He said the UAE would bring “all of the necessary stakeholders to the table to move faster and at scale.”
"The UAE is a crucial partner in advancing our joint efforts to combat the climate crisis," Mr Kerry said.
"The path ahead will not be easy," he added, "but I am optimistic at the outset of 2023 that we can collectively rise to meet the challenge of the climate crisis and build the clean energy economy of the future."
UAE takes climate action
The UAE has invested tens of billions of dollars in renewables, sustainability and initiatives to limit the emissions produced by the extraction of oil and gas.
The UAE has invested more than $50 billion in renewable energy projects across 70 countries, with plans to invest an additional $50 billion over the next decade.
Today, the Emirates is home to several of the world's largest solar parks — sprawling desert arrays designed to reduce the reliance on gas-fired power stations.
It has also built a four-reactor nuclear power plant that is expected to meet 25 per cent of the nation's energy needs.
Expo City gears up for mega-event
About 80,000 delegates from around the world will attend the summit at the former Expo 2020 Dubai site, which is being redeveloped as a new district called Expo City.
Expo itself was built to sustainable principles, with reusable buildings and with streets navigated by foot or electric vehicle. Much of the site is currently open to the public.
“I am particularly proud to host Cop28 at Expo City, with its origins rooted in collaboration with people from all walks of life, but also as a proof of concept of how to build and operate a sustainable city responsibly and in harmony with our environment," said Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and chief executive of Expo City Authority.
"We invite the world to Expo City, to help shape the decisions that face our collective future."
Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, said Cop28 will be a crucial moment, with much demanded of world leaders.
"The first global stocktake of progress towards meeting the Paris targets will conclude at COP28, and the truth is we are nowhere near where we need to be. This should spur action, and move beyond ideology and slogans to practical partnerships," he said.
"Dr Al Jaber brings deep diplomatic and commercial experience through his work as the UAE’s special envoy on climate change and as the chairman of Masdar, a leading renewables company. I am confident that Dr Sultan has both the standing and the capability to offer groundbreaking leadership for Cop28."
Dr Anwar Gargash, Diplomatic Adviser to the UAE President, congratulated Dr Al Jaber.
"Cop28 UAE will be a critical milestone in the global climate agenda, offering the international community the opportunity to conduct the first global stock take of commitments made under the Paris Agreement, as well as how to implement them according to an integrated vision," he said.
"The international community will also seek effective solutions to critical gaps and challenges facing all countries at this global event that the UAE will host at Expo City Dubai this year.
"Dr Al Jaber’s experience as UAE Special Envoy on Climate Change will be critical to sustaining the diplomatic effort needed to ensure success in this regard."
Arvind Krishna, the global chairman and chief executive officer of technology company IBM, said of Dr Al Jaber: "I know his ability to create coalitions, build consensus, and drive outcomes will serve him well in this important role. We look forward to his leadership of the world’s most consequential climate summit.”
Jaime de Bourbon de Parme, climate envoy of the Netherlands, added: "The Netherlands is looking forward to a close cooperation with the UAE on the next Climate Summit Cop28. Congratulations to Dr Sultan Al Jaber and his two leading champions."