Adnan Amin told diplomats that Cop28 should result in a “just and balanced energy transition” that spurs the switch from fossil fuels to renewables while keeping costs in check.
The incoming UAE presidency will work with polluters to cut back their emissions and keep alive the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, Mr Amin said.
“Our approach is underpinned by optimism and by hope,” he said during the talks in Bonn ahead of Cop28 in November and December.
Scientists advising the UN say deep emissions cuts from sectors such as transport, industry, heating and agriculture are needed to prevent a worst-case temperature rise.
Many countries, cities and businesses have set targets of net zero emissions by 2050, however, several plans lack transparency and fail to meet essential criteria, according to a report released on Monday.
The world’s current policies are projected to cause more than 3°C of global warming – which would take humanity into a “new kind of world” marked by flooding and intense storms, one leading scientist told The National.
Mr Amin said the UAE presidency was pushing for a tripling of global renewable energy and a doubling of hydrogen capacity by 2030 as part of the drive for clean fuels.
It is also working with the oil and gas sectors and high-emitting industries to “drive deep decarbonisation”, he told delegates.
Hydrogen is tipped as a replacement for fossil fuels in sectors such as aviation and shipping.
“We recognise the high expectations the world has for the Cop28 presidency to deliver on the energy transition,” Mr Amin said.
“Let me assure you we intend to do just that, in close co-operation with high-emitting sectors, to raise ambition on near-term decarbonisation and deliver measurable emissions reduction to put us back on the path to alignment with the Paris ambition.”
He added that energy security, accessibility and affordability “should remain a top priority” as the world switches away from fossil fuels.
“We take on the role of hosting Cop28 with humility, a deep sense of responsibility and a great sense of urgency,” he said.
In talks with African negotiators, the UAE presidency has said the switch can only take place if investment “flows at scale” to make finance and technology available.
Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and the Cop28 President-designate Dr Sultan Al Jaber, who is also the UAE special envoy for climate change, said Africa was “rich in clean energy resources” such as solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric power.
These resources give Africa “huge potential for low-carbon growth and sustainable development”, he said while attending the talks in Bonn.
The summit heard from a representative of Moroccan businesses who warned that the climate crisis has the potential to deal severe blows to Africa’s growth prospects,
Said El Hadi, who runs a green commission at the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises, said global warming “has obviously affected the economic growth of the country”.
“Africa is the continent that has contributed the least to climate change,” he said, “yet Africa is clearly deeply affected by climate change and suffering to a great extent from its consequences”.
Egypt, which hosted Cop27 in Sharm El Sheikh last year, said the incoming UAE presidency had its full support.
Cop28 will take place in Dubai’s Expo City on November 30.
The global south has repeatedly pressed for rich countries to make good on a promise of $100 billion of annual climate finance for the poorer world, which has yet to materialise despite being pledged in 2009.
Germany expressed optimism at recent talks in Berlin that the $100 billion target was within reach, even as experts predicted the cost of a green overhaul would run into the trillions.
The delayed funding “remains an unnecessary distraction from our shared process and an impediment to restoring trust,” Mr Amin told negotiators in Bonn.
“We very much welcome the positive signals from developed countries that indicated 2023 will mark the achievement of this objective.”