Dr Sultan Al Jaber calls for world to unite as pre-Cop28 talks begin

Cop28 President-designate calls for international community to come together to prove 1.5ºC pledge is still in reach

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Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President-designate and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, said there were “too many things dividing our world at this moment” and urged everyone to unite at next month's crucial climate conference in Dubai.

Speaking on Monday at the start of crucial pre-Cop talks in Abu Dhabi, Dr Al Jaber urged global action to tackle the climate crisis, with the summit now just weeks away.

More than 100 delegations and about 70 ministers are in the capital for the two-day event which Cop28 organisers said was more than double the normal number of participants.

“There are too many things dividing our world at this moment,” Dr Al Jaber said in the opening session. “We need to show that the international community can deliver and send a clear signal that keeps 1.5ºC within reach,” he said, referring to the goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Turning to the future of fossil fuels, which are the primary driver of greenhouse gas emissions, Dr Al Jaber said he was aware of “strong views about the idea of including language on fossil fuels and renewables in the negotiated text”.

In referring to the negotiated text and cover decision that is typically published at the end of Cop summits, Dr Al Jaber acknowledged there remained significant debate about “phasing down” or “phasing out” fossil fuels.

“I need you to work together to come forward with solutions that can achieve alignment, common ground and consensus between all parties. We must be pragmatic. And we must leave no one behind,” he said.

Oil and gas sector has a key role to play

Dr Al Jaber said more than 20 oil and gas companies had answered Cop28’s call to end methane emissions by 2030.

“I see positive momentum, as more are joining,” he said. “And we are engaging with all high-emitting sectors, like heavy transportation, aluminium, steel and cement to lay out credible decarbonisation plans.”

Leaders will meet in Dubai from November 30 to December 12 to tackle the escalating climate emergency. Temperatures across the world have reached record highs this year, with extreme weather events becoming common.

The UN has repeatedly warned the world is off track in meeting the goals of the Paris accord, where countries agreed to “pursue efforts” to keep warming to 1.5ºC on pre-industrial levels.

Dr Al Jaber said parties “must do better” in formulating agreements on issues than they had done at previous conferences. “We have no time to waste on disunity,” he said. “We must look beyond short-term thinking, we must end the excuses and delays and redefine our self-interest as common interest.”

Dr Al Jaber urged a robust response to the global stocktake at Cop28 that will assess how the world is measuring up to the Paris deal. He also called for strong outcomes on mitigation and adaptation and “groundbreaking solutions” on finance.

Delivering on pledges

“That includes delivering on the fund and funding arrangements for loss and damage,” he said. “What was promised in Sharm El Sheikh must be delivered in Dubai,” he said, referring to Cop27's loss and damage fund.

He also called for finance to be scaled up to where it is most needed and urged for the $100bn a year climate finance pledge to be delivered.

“Old promises must be kept, like the $100bn pledge. I am grateful for the work of Germany and Canada on this, and their reassurances that things are now on track. But, as I stand here now, I still cannot say with certainty that has been delivered.”

He also outlined the importance of adaptation, which refers to actions that reduce vulnerability to impacts of climate change such as drought-tolerant crops or building flood defences.

“We must end deforestation and preserve natural carbon sinks … it is time for every nation to embed nature-positive investments in national climate strategies.”

The pre-Cop negotiations on Monday and Tuesday aim to drive momentum for the crucial UN summit that is now just four weeks away.

Dr Al Jaber also met ministers and climate leaders at the start of the talks including US climate envoy, John Kerry.

“The world is watching,” said Dr Al Jaber. “Our nations, our communities, our families, our kids, they are all watching. So, let us unite.”

“This process must not fail. We have to come through. We must deliver in Dubai.”

Updated: October 30, 2023, 4:01 PM