Cop28 President-designate: G20 nations have a duty to spearhead climate action

Dr Sultan Al Jaber said leading countries must stand together to halt damage to planet

Cop28 President-designate Dr Sultan Al Jaber said the world is 'more vulnerable and less resilient'. Photo: Wam
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The world is losing the fight against climate change and will continue to do so unless leading countries show solidarity, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President-designate, has warned.

Dr Al Jaber made his comments during a speech on Friday at a G20 ministerial climate meeting in the eastern Indian city of Chennai.

G20 nations have a duty to take leadership roles when it comes to climate action, he said.

Many of the indicators are going in the wrong direction
Dr Sultan Al Jaber

“The science and our senses are telling us that the world is more vulnerable, less resilient and lacks the critical capacity to deal with mounting climate impacts,” said Dr Al Jaber.

“Right now, many of the indicators are going in the wrong direction. Temperature records continue to be broken, with this month officially recorded as the hottest in history.

“We are losing biodiversity. Agricultural land is being degraded and food insecurity is increasing.”

Dr Al Jaber also voiced his concern that his call at a meeting last week in Goa, southern India, to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030 has “yet to find expression in G20 outcomes”.

The Cop28 President-designate had called for action at a clean energy ministerial meeting at held alongside the G20 energy transitions ministerial meeting.

“As a group, the G20 represents 85 per cent of the world’s GDP and 80 per cent of the world’s emissions,” said Dr Al Jaber.

“What you decide will have a huge influence on outcomes for everyone, everywhere.

“There is still time for the G20 to show leadership, and I am calling on all of you to work with your leaders to drive global climate action in this critical decade.”

Solidarity is key

He called on all parties to get behind the UN Secretary General’s Climate Solidarity Pact and Acceleration Agenda.

“I made the case for all parties to get behind a rapid scale up of renewable energy, while we comprehensively decarbonise the current energy system and build towards a system free of all unabated fossil fuels,” said Dr Al Jaber.

The President-designate also highlighted the importance of making progress when it came to adaptation, with parties having agreed to this as part of the Paris Agreement.

“We all signed up to this. We are all responsible for its success,” he said.

He urged nations to accelerate the implementation of 30x30 – the name given to the scheme to conserve 30 per cent of terrestrial and marine habitat by the end of this decade.

Dr Al Jaber also called for the expansion of the Forest and Climate Leaders Partnership.

“If we are going to make progress on adaptation, we first have to define what success looks like in terms of stopping biodiversity loss, restoring agricultural land, preserving forests, protecting coastlines, ensuring no one goes hungry and safeguarding lives and livelihoods everywhere,” he said.

Dr Al Jaber told ministers the transformation of food systems was a top priority for the Cop28 Presidency.

“We need it to be your priority as well,” he said.

“Your national adaptation plans and strategies should promote sustainable land use, leverage technologies to increase crop resilience, enhance nutrition and reduce the climate impacts of farming.”

Needle needs to move

The President-designate reiterated the need to “move the needle on adaptation finance”.

“Doubling adaptation finance by 2025 is a critical first step but we need to look at directing a solid proportion of all climate finance towards adaptation responses,” he said.

“The more that is invested in adaptation, the greater our collective resilience to climate impacts will be.

“Yet, we must acknowledge that many vulnerable countries – in particular small-island developing states and least developed countries – are already experiencing consequences of climate change that go beyond what people can adapt to.

“Every day, we are seeing the human impacts of extreme climate events devastating the lives of ordinary people around the world.

“Let us reflect on that as human beings and remember once again why solidarity is so important.

“I urge you to bring that spirit of solidarity to Cop28.”

The Cop28 climate change conference will take place in Dubai for two weeks, starting on November 30.

Updated: July 28, 2023, 1:09 PM