Dr Sultan Al Jaber, President-designate of the Cop28 summit, has called for developing nations to be given access to funding to ensure they are not priced out of pursuing climate goals.
The Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and special envoy for climate change said some countries face being "held up in bureaucratic red tape" when seeking financial support for green strategies.
Dr Al Jaber called for urgent reforms of financial institutions around the globe to help drive investment towards key environmental policies.
The Emirati minister has consistently raised the alarm in recent weeks over the need to turn talk into action to protect the planet.
The international community will gather at Cop 28 at Expo City Dubai in November for a global stocktake of eco targets and to develop a blueprint for a more sustainable future.
“For developing countries, climate finance is nowhere near available, affordable, or accessible enough," said Dr Al Jaber at a climate finance conference organised by Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados.
"Even when funds are allocated, they get held up in bureaucratic red tape and don’t get to where they need to go. And as a result, both climate and development goals are at risk.
“If the world does not come up with effective mechanisms to deliver climate finance to developing and emerging economies, they will have no choice but to choose a carbon intensive development path.”
Ms Mottley unveiled the Bridgetown Initiative at Cop27 in Egypt, which set out plans for a radical overhaul of financial frameworks to fund climate action around the world.
She has been lauded as a driving force for climate action in Latin America and the Caribbean and has set ambitious targets for her country, including plans for a fossil fuel-free electricity sector by 2030.
In 2021, she was awarded the UN's highest environmental honour for her work highlighting the threat from rising sea levels to small islands around the world.
Rising temperatures and sea levels are affecting Barbados by shrinking its already limited water supply, forcing villages to relocate from the coastline, and contaminating existing freshwater reserves with sea water.
Dr Al Jaber noted that Ms Mottley had helped set the tone for climate finance at Cop27.
He said the Bridgetown Initiative had "without a doubt placed a focus on the fact that IFIs and MDBs [international financial institutions and multilateral development banks] are not keeping pace with the challenges of the 21st century.”
Investing in the future
Dr Al Jaber underlined the importance of effecting change to meet 2030 targets set out in the Paris Agreement at Cop21 in 2015.
“Without a strong outcome on finance, the Paris Agreement simply cannot succeed,” he said.
“Financial reforms, such as making concessional loans more affordable and mobilising private-sector financing for emerging and developing economies, would increase investments in the poorest countries, and improve climate resilience and enhance truly sustainable development."
Dr Al Jaber said he is optimistic that foundations for success will be laid at Cop 28.
“There is no shortage of ideas or consensus on what needs to be done. What’s missing is getting it done," he said.
“I believe that the collective will and convening power in this room can make the necessary progress by Cop28 in November, lay the foundation for a successful climate summit and restore trust in the multilateral system.
"Our planet and our people, and especially the most vulnerable, are depending on it.”