Dr Sultan Al Jaber, President-designate of the Cop28 summit, has warned the world is "way off track" in its efforts to limit global warming and that "transformational progress" is needed this decade to bring about meaningful change.
The Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and special envoy for climate change sounded the alarm during his opening remarks at the two-day Copenhagen Climate Ministerial summit on Monday.
Dr Al Jaber is co-chairman of the event, which has brought together more than 40 government ministers.
It is viewed as a key stop on the road to Cop28, which will be staged at Expo City Dubai in November.
“We need to build on the foundation achieved at Cop27 and move from goals to getting it done," said Dr Al Jaber.
He said the international community was "way off track when it comes to the critical goal of keeping 1.5 alive," referring to the Paris Agreement made at Cop21 in 2015 to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
"Incremental steps will simply not cut it, we need transformational progress in the next seven years across mitigation, adaptation, climate finance and loss and damage,” he said.
The Cop28 head urged nations to “scale up all available zero-carbon energy sources, while minimising the emissions from all other energy sources.
"Technology that no one can afford isn’t much use to anyone," he said.
"Governments should therefore adopt smart policies to incentivise breakthroughs in battery storage and commercialise carbon capture and the hydrogen value chain.
"We should inject a business mindset, short-term KPIs [key performance indicators] and an ambitious action-oriented agenda into the Mitigation Work Programme, and remember that the enemy is emissions, not progress.”
Dr Al Jaber spoke of the importance of supporting developing countries and finding ways to protect fragile biodiversity.
“At a minimum, we need to double adaptation finance and adopt national policies that build every country’s capacity to adapt to climate impacts,” he said.
Loss and damage policy is key
Dr Al Jaber stressed the need to realise the goals of the loss and damge fund, established at Cop27 in Egypt, to compensate poorer nations for the harm caused by climate change.
“We must bring the Sharm El Sheikh outcome on loss and damage to life," said Dr Al Jaber.
"This means the loss and damage fund must be fully operationalised, and we need the right governance and structures in place to target the most vulnerable communities.
“The lynchpin to all progress across climate pillars is finance. We have an opportunity to shape a new financial goal at Cop28 that enables us to chart a new course for greater climate ambition.”
The Emirati minister called for “urgent reform of international financial institutions" to help fund climate change projects.
"The bottom line is finance needs to be much more available, accessible and affordable,” he said.
Dr Al Jaber called for “solidarity and unity of purpose,” adding: “There is simply no room for division.
"Progress of the kind we need can only happen through partnership, not polarisation.
“The task ahead represents one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced. But, if we act with urgency, act together and act now, it also represents one of the greatest opportunities for social and economic development.”
Copenhagen is the latest destination in Dr Al Jaber's global listening tour – a series of international visits to engage with and listen to the views of partners from governments, the private sector, civil society and international organisations.
Dr Al Jaber held a series of meetings with climate leaders and ministers from across the globe, including Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Zhao Yingmin, China’s Vice Minister of Ecology and Environment, and Jennifer Morgan, Germany's special envoy for International Climate Action.