Crucial pre-Cop28 talks to begin as Dr Sultan Al Jaber calls for all voices to be heard

Two days of preparatory negotiations seek to iron out differences ahead of climate summit

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About 60 ministers from around the world are expected in the UAE over the next two days for crucial pre-Cop28 talks.

The negotiations will take place on Monday and Tuesday in Abu Dhabi and aim to drive momentum for the crucial UN summit that is now just four weeks away.

Pre-Cop is seen as a crucial stage to outline differences in climate issues such as emissions, keeping the 1.5ºC threshold within reach, scaling up finance and other vital areas such as loss and damage.

The “global stocktake”, an assessment of where countries stand in meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, is also expected to be front and centre during the two-day event.

The preparatory talks are the last formal ministerial engagement before Cop28, the presidency said and aims to ensure talks can hit the ground running on November 30.

Cop28 head outlines support for developing countries

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President-designate, called for the voices of developing nations to be heard in the climate debate in a meeting held on the eve of the Pre-Cop gathering.

"To guarantee an inclusive and equitable transition to low-carbon and resilient growth, the voices of emerging and developing countries must not go unheard," said Dr Al Jaber at the third Climate and Development Ministerial, which was co-hosted by the United Kingdom, Vanuatu and Malawi.

"Cop28 must leverage an adequate response to the Global Stocktake and set out a pathway to fill the financing gaps and address shortcomings in the global climate finance architecture."

Dr Al Jaber said the Cop28 Presidency was working on improving conditions for the world's most vulnerable nations by reallocating and channelling Special Drawing Rights, a financial instrument allocated by the International Monetary Fund , to address debt sustainability and support resilience investment.

He also highlighted the efforts made by the UAE, including the recent pledge of $4.5 billion to support clean energy initiatives at the Africa Climate Summit, with the aim of promoting green growth on the continent.

“We are working on all fronts. But we do not have all the answers and there is much to be done,” he said.

Shaping the climate agenda

Dr Al Jaber has pinpointed the Pre-Cop28 event as a key stop on the road to the climate conference.

“Pre-Cop will be a critical platform for ministers to engage and narrow the gaps on issues across all mandated outcomes,” said Dr Al Jaber, also Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, last month.

“I will be looking to unlock progress and press ministers on all challenging issues that are key to a high-ambition outcome. I call on ministers to come prepared to engage in the spirit of flexibility and unity that the world is expecting of us less than a month out from Cop28.”

Dr Al Jaber said talks on the Cop28 agenda would also take place so work could start immediately on November 30. “Given the urgency and heavy workload in Dubai, it is essential that we start work immediately and have a smooth adoption of the agenda on day one,” he said.

Cop28 runs at Expo City Dubai from November 30 to December 12 where leaders will tackle the climate emergency.

Countries and negotiating blocs are expected to set out their position in the talks. Loss and damage deliberations are proving contentious with a fresh set to try to resolve differences over the fund to happen next week.

“The purpose of pre-Cop is to try to bring together parties and emphasise the spirit of collective ambition,” said Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at the London School of Economics. “And it is particularly useful when you have a number of issues that are proving to be divisive.”

Mr Ward said the current challenge is that pledges by countries to tackle warming emissions are “not in line” with the Paris Agreement and there didn’t seem to be any “substantial movement” to improve.

“Too often at Cop there is a retreat by some countries to these kinds of narrow positions that prove quite difficult to move because it is consensus-based,” he said. “Everyone must agree so a few can hold it up. The pre-Cop is designed to highlight the issues that need resolving and to get countries to recognise the need for a collective determination to make progress.”

Dr Al Al Jaber, speaking at a meeting of G77 ministers and heads of delegation on Sunday in advance of the talks urged all sides to come together.

“We must ensure the developing world doesn’t have to choose between climate action and development,” he said.

Updated: October 29, 2023, 3:49 PM