Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change and Cop28 President-designate, on Thursday laid out the scale of the worldwide challenge presented by climate change.
He attended a special roundtable in Paris of ambassadors representing OECD countries and developing economies that together are responsible for 80 per cent of global emissions, in the run-up to the UAE hosting Cop28 later this year.
“This Cop marks the first global stocktake since the Paris Agreement, and its conclusions are not in doubt. We are way off track," he said.
“The bottom line is this: the world needs to cut emissions by 43 per cent in the next seven years to keep 1.5°C alive.
“In the course of those same seven years, the global population will exceed 8.5 billion and is on its way to 10 billion by 2050.
“Meeting the scale of the world’s fast-growing energy needs, while dramatically reducing emissions, is one of the most complex challenges humanity has ever faced," he added.
“Nothing short of transformational progress will do across mitigation, adaptation, climate finance and loss and damage.”
Dr Al Jaber repeated his priorities for mitigation, emphasising messages he delivered at CERAWeek in Houston last week where he called on oil and gas companies to decarbonise.
He also said other industries must be helped to decarbonise, and underlined the need for smart government regulation to stimulate transition technology.
“As you know I was in Houston last week for CERAWeek," he said. "While there, I emphasised the vital role that the energy sector has to play in decarbonising itself and helping decarbonise other industries.
“I believe the energy sector has the resources, the know-how and the reach to help transform our energy systems. But it is going to require unprecedented commitment and collaboration.
“Oil and gas companies need to align around net zero. And all viable zero-carbon energy sources must be scaled up,” Dr Al Jaber added.
“We need smart government regulation and market stimulus to commercialise carbon capture technologies and the hydrogen value chain.
“Decarbonising heavy-emitting industries simply won’t happen without these and other technologies taken to scale.”
He emphasised that climate and economic progress must go hand-in-hand and a just transition that is fair to the global south was required.
“We need to ensure a just energy transition that ensures equitable access to affordable energy across the global south," he said.
“In short, we need a realistic, approach that is pro-climate and pro-growth, pragmatic and disruptive at the same time.
“And we need to capture what is needed in a comprehensive action plan for the planet and its people.”
Dr Al Jaber underscored the need to drive more capital toward energy transition.
He also called for fundamental reform of international financial institutions and multilateral banks to ensure vulnerable countries are not left behind.
“None of this progress is possible without lots of accessible, available and affordable capital.
“Developed countries must live up to the $100 billon pledge made over a decade ago. And we need to use every lever to push for real reform of international financial institutions and multilateral development banks.
“Much more concessional finance must be unlocked to lower risk and attract more private capital.”
Commenting on Dr. Al Jaber’s remarks, IEA executive director Fatih Birol said: “We were pleased to host Cop28 President-designate Dr Al Jaber at the IEA for a frank discussion on how to accelerate climate action.
“More than 50 countries from around the world took part in the meeting, representing around 80 per pent of global CO2 emissions and, I hope, more than 80 per cent of the solutions.
“The UAE’s Cop28 presidency is a crucial opportunity for the oil and gas sector to show it can take an active and transparent role in tackling climate change.
“An ambitious and successful Cop28 in Dubai can change the world’s energy and climate future for the better,” he added. "And it can change the economic destiny of many oil and gas producing countries, setting a path that moves them away from over-reliance on hydrocarbons towards a cleaner and more secure future
“The IEA will help map out this path with a special report that we will publish ahead of Cop28 on the role of oil and gas producers in the transition to net-zero emissions.”
Dr Al Jaber also noted the vital role of finance in adapting the fund for loss and damage announced at Cop27.
“On adaptation, we need to deliver on the global goal, double adaptation finance and ensure vulnerable communities, as well as fragile biodiversity, are protected," he said.
“On loss and damage, the mandate from Cop27 is clear. We must follow through by creating a fully operational loss and damage fund.”
He noted that if the right investments are made in the right way, the opportunities for economic growth through clean technology adoption are immense.
But in order to capitalise on this opportunity, unity of purpose and action is essential, Dr Al Jaber said.
“The task ahead is massive, but so is the opportunity to create a new economic development model, new industries, new jobs and new hope.
“That’s why I’m calling for a Cop of action, a Cop of proactivity and a Cop for all.
“We need all segments of society — governments, private sector and civil society — working together, driving in the same direction.
“There is no room for division,” he added.
“Progress is made through partnership, not polarisation. So, I am using this period in the first two quarters of the year to meet as many stakeholders from as many parts of the world as possible.
“I truly believe that we can ignite the greatest leap in human and economic development since the first Industrial Revolution, if we act together, act smart and act now.”