Cop28 President-designate welcomes world to Dubai with call to action

Dr Sultan Al Jaber tells decision-makers to bring 'maximum ambition' to crunch talks and rejects reports about oil and gas deals

Dr Sultan Al Jaber issues call to action for Cop28

Dr Sultan Al Jaber issues call to action for Cop28
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The Cop28 President-designate said the UAE was ready to welcome the world in the next 24 hours – and issued a call to action to tackle climate change together.

Speaking to the media at Expo City Dubai on Wednesday, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, who is also Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, said world leaders must come to Dubai ready to commit for the key summit that starts on Thursday.

“We must raise the maximum ambition possible,” he said.

He urged decision-makers to bring a “supercharged mindset that is centred around implementation”, eight years after world leaders met in Paris to agree to keep post-industrial temperature increases to 1.5°C.

The latest evidence from the UN's top climate body – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – shows the world is way off target, he said.

“We respect the science … and we respect the fact that the IPCC clearly shows that the progress we've made collectively so far is nowhere near fast enough,” Dr Al Jaber said.

His tour of more than 50 countries before the 12-day summit made it clear that “we need to bridge the gap between the global north and the global south”, Dr Al Jaber added.

It made little sense to leave out industries that have traditionally not been part of talks, he said, in an apparent reference to oil and gas companies and other private sector operators.

“Why do we continue to leave people outside the room … why isn't everyone at the table?” he said.

The UN-run Blue Zone at Expo has had 97,000 people register as delegates – far more than the 70,000 expected.

More than 400,000 members of the public have applied for one-day passes for the Green Zone, he added.

Simon Stiell, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which runs the Cop talks, said: “This Cop – Cop28 – must be a turning point. This is where we shift from what needs to be done, to the how.

“And this how will be reflected in the global stocktake. How robust will that response be?”

Getting firm commitments to financing climate change mitigation – billions, if not trillions are needed – was crucial, Mr Stiell said.

“Finance is the enabler for closing that implementation gap,” he said. “Cop28 will be a finance Cop.”

Dr Al Jaber also forcefully rejected reports over the past few days that suggested the UAE was planning to advance oil and gas deals at the summit.

During a question-and-answer session he said that the allegations were false and an attempt to "undermine the work of the Cop28 presidency".

"Never ever did I see these talking points that they refer to or that I ever even use such talking points in my discussions," he said.

"Every meeting I have conducted with every government, or any other stakeholder has always been centred around one thing and one thing only, and that is my Cop28 agenda and how we can collectively, for the first time ever, adopt a mindset that is centred around implementation and action to keep 1.5ºC within reach."

"Now, sometimes I am told to engage with governments and oil and gas companies to put pressure, and sometimes I'm told you can't do that.

"So we're damned if we do, we're damned if we don’t .

"So please, for once, respect who we are, respect what we have achieved over the years, and respect that we have been clear and open and clear and honest and transparent on how we’re going to conduct this Cop process."

The press conference also heard from Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment; Majid Al Suwaidi, Cop28 director general; Shamma Al Mazrui, youth climate champion; Razan Al Mubarak; UN climate change high-level champion; and Adnan Amin, chief executive of Cop28.

The talks are expected to be dominated by major themes including the global stocktake, the contentious loss and damage fund, the future of fossil fuels; scaling up finance and bolstering food systems to cope with a warming world.

But Dr Al Jaber struck a confident tone.

"We feel that the prospects of an extraordinary outcome are at hand," he said. "And we will step up to deliver it.”

Updated: November 30, 2023, 4:22 AM