Dr Sultan Al Jaber reveals UAE's four-pillar plan for Cop28

President-designate puts focus on energy, finance, people and inclusivity

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and President-designate of Cop28, met ministers in Brussels on Thursday. Photo: Cop28 UAE / Twitter
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Cop28 will be based around four pillars – fast-tracking the energy transition, fixing climate finance, focusing on people and making inclusivity a hallmark of the summit in Dubai – Dr Sultan Al Jaber said on Thursday.

The Cop28 President-designate and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology set out what he called a "science-based, action-oriented" plan at a 26-nation climate meeting in Brussels.

“Today I am calling on all of us to disrupt business as usual, unite around decisive action and achieve game-changing results,” he told ministers in a keynote speech.

“We need to challenge old models that were built for the last century. We need to break down silos that are slowing progress. And we need to bridge divides that are blocking critical breakthroughs.”

The summit begins in November when the world will complete a first-ever “global stocktake” of progress in limiting climate change.

Dr Al Jaber called on countries to update emissions plans by September to ensure they were aligned with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C – a target he said was the “north star” of his plan for Cop28.

His September deadline is earlier than a 2025 cut-off set by the Paris Agreement. It comes after the UAE raised its own target for emissions cuts to 40 per cent this decade, up from 31 per cent.

For the summit's first pillar, fast-tracking the energy transition, countries will be urged to expand clean power sources and increase energy efficiency.

At the talks in Brussels hosted by the EU, Canada and China, the President-designate called on countries to use “every emission-busting tool available”, including nuclear power and battery storage.

Goals set out by Dr Al Jaber include trebling renewable energy output, doubling energy efficiency measures and hydrogen production to 180 million tonnes per year by 2030. He said oil companies should seek to "zero out" methane emissions by 2030.

“We must be laser-focused on building the energy system of the future,” he said.

I challenge you to act in solidarity, put differences aside and put the interest of humanity first
Dr Sultan Al Jaber

The focus on finance comes amid calls to reform a global system that is “not making finance anywhere near available, accessible or affordable enough”, he said.

Dr Al Jaber, who recently attended a summit in Paris on overhauling the financial system, said it was in need of a “comprehensive transformation” and not just “piecemeal reform”.

He called on donors to double funding for adaptation by 2025. The UAE presidency is working with institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the G20 to draw up plans to unlock more funding.

A long-delayed commitment by rich countries to arrange $100 billion of annual climate funding for the developing world should finally be met “well ahead” of the summit, Dr Al Jaber said.

He said it was imperative to finalise plans for a global fund to meet the costs of climate loss and damage that should be activated “soon after” Cop28.

The third pillar is on lives and livelihoods and takes “a human-centred approach that focuses on nature, food, health and resilience”, Dr Al Jaber said.

Cop28 will be the first UN climate conference with health as one of the dedicated daily topics, the UAE presidency said. It plans to arrange it with the World Health Organisation, the UK, Germany, Kenya, Egypt, Brazil and Fiji.

Transforming food systems that are under threat from global warming is also “an essential enabler” of climate action, the President-designate said. He said tackling food-related issues should be part of countries' national emissions plans.

Setting out the fourth pillar of inclusivity, he said the world could only succeed in addressing climate change by “engaging every person, every generation and every corner of society”.

“Full inclusivity will be the hallmark of the Cop28 presidency,” he said.

He said Cop28 would feature the largest youth climate delegate programme yet and a pavilion for indigenous people. The presidency says it wants to “tap into the concerns and wisdom” of indigenous groups who protect much of the world’s biodiversity.

Alex Scott, an expert on climate diplomacy at think tank E3G, said the plan set out on Thursday "shows that the UAE recognises the critical task global leaders face to use Cop28 to set a new direction".

She said it was a "good move" by Dr Al Jaber to enlist ministers from Denmark and South Africa to take soundings on the stocktake.

Dr Al Jaber called for "supercharged solutions and ambitious outcomes" from Cop28.

“Today I am proud to lay out a plan that is science-based, action-orientated and focused on a new way forward,” he told ministers.

“This plan came from listening and engaging with all of you and can only be realised by all of you. The key to its success rests on what you do next. I challenge you to act in solidarity, put differences aside and put the interest of humanity first.”

The meeting is taking place against the backdrop of record global temperatures measured in recent days, which Dr Al Jaber mentioned in his remarks. The European Space Agency said Europe’s heat record of 48.8°C could be broken this month, potentially in Italy.

“We are seeing an acceleration of the frequency and severity of climate impacts,” said Canada’s Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault, who on Tuesday told The National the UAE presidency was sending “all of the right signals”.

Canada and Germany are marshalling efforts to finally raise the $100 billion that was first promised in 2009.

Frans Timmermans, the EU’s top official on climate change, said the summit in Dubai “has an opportunity to aim higher than any other Cop before”.

He called for the global stocktake to chart a way forward so that people do not “fall into despair about the climate crisis”.

Updated: July 14, 2023, 8:34 AM