Dutch PM Mark Rutte pledges to work with UAE to deliver results at Cop28

Netherlands leader visits Abu Dhabi in run-up to global summit with focus on strengthening ties

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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has pledged to work with Cop28 host the UAE to mobilise action on a $100 billion package to support lower-income communities around the world affected by climate change.

Mr Rutte made the commitment during discussions with President Sheikh Mohamed on Tuesday to support the UAE in delivering the $100 billion funding for climate action in the developing world.

In Abu Dhabi for a day packed with meetings with the government, business leaders and youth, Mr Rutte told The National in an exclusive interview he was hopeful of a successful Cop28 and wanted to be part of mobilising forces to deliver the long-stalled funding.

My main message is this relationship, for us, is crucially important
Mark Rutte, Dutch Prime Minister

“We want to be one of the drivers, co-drivers, to make it happen,” Mr Rutte said.

“I pledged to His Highness the President that he can count on us to do everything we can in this direction to make sure that we collectively deliver a successful Cop.”

In the run-up to the global climate summit starting in November, the UAE has called on countries to deliver on the annual funding target that was promised to developing nations in Copenhagen in 2009.

“We will very much help driving results on the $100 billion pledge, which is still an irritant for the South and I think we are close to getting an agreement at this Cop and that will be a fantastic success if that is possible,” Mr Rutte said.

“It will take away a huge sticking point, an irritant between the North and the Global South.”

Green hydrogen

During Tuesday's talks with Sheikh Mohamed, Mr Rutte also focused on developing a green hydrogen supply chain from Abu Dhabi to Europe.

Masdar had signed an agreement with four Dutch companies to explore exporting green hydrogen from Abu Dhabi that involves production in the emirate and export to the Netherlands through the Port of Amsterdam.

“Together we can do a lot in terms of innovation, research and development,” he said.

“The Netherlands is very good in transport and in Europe we have this very intricate piping system through the country but also to the rest of Europe.”

He said working together on the green hydrogen project was key to plans for the ministries taking discussions forward.

As part of the official visit, Mr Rutte and Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, agreed to strengthen co-operation in key sectors such as renewable energy, space industry, artificial intelligence, entrepreneurship, agri-tech and smart mobility solutions.

The two men witnessed the signing of a partnership on water management following a roundtable in Dubai held under the theme, 'energising the future'.

Mr Rutte will be back in the UAE for Cop28 and also plans to return to Abu Dhabi early next year to follow up on the hydrogen talks.

On Tuesday, he spoke of deepening and strengthening ties between the UAE and the Netherlands.

“My main message is this relationship for us is crucially important,” Mr Rutte said.

“Yes, we have a very good relationship – it is very much trade-based and there is so much more we can do.

“From today onwards, our relationship will be about much more – it will be a strategic relationship.”

Co-operation on green hydrogen, artificial intelligence, safe sea routes, education, water, working on free trade between the UAE and Europe and expanding cultural exchange between the two nations was also discussed.

Longest-serving Dutch prime minister

Mr Rutte is the country’s longest-serving prime minister and has been in office since 2010.

After 13 years in power, following a dispute over immigration that led to the collapse of his coalition government, he announced his retirement from politics in July.

He will stay on in a caretaker role, even after the elections in November as it will be months before a new team is assembled.

Migration has been a major issue in the Netherlands and across Europe and Mr Rutte’s coalition has spoken out against the unchecked flow of economic migrants.

“The main areas to focus on for the next government will absolutely be migration because that is out of control at the moment,” Mr Rutte said.

“Somehow, we have to make sure we can get back in control and particularly help the most vulnerable.

“At the moment we are not helping the most vulnerable because we have so many economic migrants.”

Mr Rutte has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, with the Dutch government committing to transfer F-16 fighter jets to his country.

He said the public continued to be supportive of Ukraine in the war with Russia.

“This is, of course, about Ukraine but also about us,” he said. “You cannot as a big country invade a small country.

“We cannot accept in these days and times this kind of aggression.

“There is an issue of values at stake here but also that our own security is at stake because if [Russian President Vladimir] Putin were to win in Ukraine, he will not stop there – he will continue. And that makes the whole of Europe unstable.”

Updated: September 27, 2023, 6:21 AM