In 2010, research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that, on average, it takes 66 days for people to create a new, life-changing habit. For those preparing to take part in the Cop28 climate summit in the UAE, they have 100 days to get ready for an event whose very essence is about change and creating new behaviours that have lasting, positive outcomes. From governments to individuals, the task at hand is to ensure effective change for climate action to secure all our futures.
Starting on November 30, heads of state and government, ministers, scientists, business figures, climate campaigners and many more will meet in the UAE to take part in a critical, co-operative gathering on global warming. Climate change is the issue of our age and the pervasive, interconnected nature of the challenge that humanity faces means the summit will be a rallying point for new technologies, politics and finance.
As the host nation for the event, much of the focus will be on the UAE and what it can bring to the table. The Emirates has been an example of considerable creative thinking and investment when it comes to mitigating the effects of climate change and looking to address the challenges that are rapidly approaching. Climate action has been embedded in the UAE’s approach to development for years, from investing in renewables to working on inventive collaborations across different sectors. Yesterday, for example, The National reported on how the National Central Cooling Company, better known as Tabreed, along with major energy producer Adnoc, is exploring geothermal projects to meet the rising demand for cooling in the Emirates.
Given that the International Energy Agency says demand for cooling is expected to more than triple by 2050, finding new sources of energy for a rapidly heating world is critical. Geothermal power, which is sustainable, emissions free and – unlike solar and wind – available 365 days a year, is a wise area to investigate, particularly for the UAE, which is experiencing population growth and increasing urbanisation.
Such innovations will play an important part of the discussions at Cop28. The need for new and sustainable ways of producing the energy humanity requires has never been greater. The consequences of human activity on the planet’s climate are apparent, as extreme wildfires ravage parts of the Mediterranean, water scarcity continues to plague many parts of the Middle East and Africa and is set to only get worse, and floods claimed more than 1,700 lives in Pakistan last year.
With a little more than three months to go until Cop28 begins, time is of the essence. For the summit to be as effective as possible, creative and flexible approaches need to be in place before the talks begin in earnest. Issues such as slashing emissions, finalising a loss and compensation fund for developing countries, and making sure nations meet their green targets are complex. However, coming global diplomatic events, such as the UN General Assembly, Climate Week and the 2023 Sustainable Development Goals Summit next month in New York present an opportunity to make progress on thorny topics before the main event in the UAE in November. The UAE’s position on the UN Security Council and as host of Cop28 means it has a pivotal role in the weeks and months ahead.
A hundred days to this year’s most important climate change event is an important moment and should serve to focus minds all over the world on the important task at hand.