Amos Hochstein calls for rich and poor countries to transition to cleaner energy

Energy transition is not only for rich countries, but has to be achieved equally across the board, Amos Hochstein said

Amos Hochstein, a senior adviser to US President Joe Biden, in Beirut on November 7.  AP
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Ahead of Cop28, the US is looking to countries to “get serious” about the energy transition.

Speaking to The National, Amos Hochstein, special presidential co-ordinator for global infrastructure and energy security, said: “The world has to get serious about accelerating the energy transition”.

He defended his own country’s positions, saying that the US will come to Cop28 to prove the steps it has taken to support the energy transition.

He said the US was coming into the summit, which begins in Dubai on November 30, with “President Joe Biden being able to talk about the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act and the Chips Act”, which has allowed for additional investment in renewable and clean energy “and in the entirety of the supply chain”.

Mr Hochstein stressed the importance of these measures as “it shows that when government takes action, we can accelerate the investment rate”.

The US is urging other countries to take similar steps in terms of legislation and investment.

The country will push for several outcomes during Cop28 that can allow for the target of a maximum of 1.5C rise in temperatures above pre-industrial levels to stay in reach.

Mr Hochstein said that there would be an expectation that oil companies come with tangible plans.

“The fossil fuel industry needs to come to the table in a real and serious way to show that they will spend significant resources towards decarbonising their efforts and investing in cleaner energy,” he said.

“These measures would need to include a reduction in methane emissions and leakage and it means that they have to take real action”.

Green energy sources – in pictures

The other element that the US would be pressing for is that all countries take on the responsibility of the energy transition into cleaner energy sources.

Mr Hochstein said that “the world has to come together to make sure that energy transition is not only in rich countries but that it is equally done across the board”.

He lamented that the percentage of dollars going into clean energy in the non-OECD, developing and middle-income countries was going down and not up.

He warned that if investment in clean energy does not go up “we will not improve the climate change effects that we are seeing, we will not slow down the warming of our planet. And we will create more injustice between the haves and have notes”.

In describing what success would look like coming out of Cop28, Mr Hochstein said: “Success here is around replicating the American example, the UAE example, the Saudi example, of investing and spending real money” in the energy transition.

This will mean further concessional lending and to lower cost of capital for developing and middle-income countries.

The US official said that this will have to be a comprehensive effort from countries, multilateral development banks, sovereign wealth funds, philanthropy and private companies.

That transition is being championed by Cop28 President-designate and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Dr Sultan Al Jaber who has worked across all these areas to ensure delivery at the UN climate conference.

Mr Hochstein expressed his appreciation for Dr Al Jaber’s role, saying: “He’s done a very good job”. However, he added: “The hardest part of the Cop is at the end”, about the negotiations beginning in earnest during Cop28.

Mr Hochstein spoke of the importance of the inclusivity of Cop28, which will have oil and gas companies participating along with a full range of actors.

“What we need is to convene everybody and to get the fossil fuel industry to understand where the world is going,” he said.

“And to recognise that and to be part of it, and to understand that the world is changing, and they need to change with it.”

As for the criticism from some climate activists about Dr Sultan also being chief executive of Adnoc, Mr Hochstein said: “People talk about him as the chief executive of Adnoc but I’ve known Dr Sultan before he was at Adnoc, when he was the founder of [green energy company] Masdar, and I worked with him on creating the clean energy powerhouse that Masdar is.”

Mr Hochstein also said he worked with Dr Al Jaber over a decade ago, to bring the UN International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) to Abu Dhabi.

He said: “I know that [Dr Al Jaber] has been committed to clean energy” and the fact he is coming to the table as the head of Adnoc means he understands what is needed.

The US official went on to say that Dr Al Jaber’s “job at this Cop is not easy”.

“He has to bring together the clean-energy advocates and the fossil fuels and you need someone who both sides can trust or understands both sides and bring them together,” he said.

“Now the job is going to be for everybody to step up”.

Updated: November 22, 2023, 6:07 AM