WGS in Dubai: 'We need a major course correction' on climate, says Dr Sultan Al Jaber

Cop28 president tells summit the world is playing catch-up in keeping temperatures down

Dr Sultan Al Jaber calls for Cop28 unity at World Government Summit

Sultan al-Jaber, the CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. , talks during the World Government Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, Feb 14, 2023.  The United Arab Emirates' pick to lead the upcoming COP28 climate talks in Dubai called on the world Tuesday to "fight climate change, not each other," directly addressing the anger activists have felt over his selection.  (AP Photo / Kamran Jebreili)
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Dr Sultan Al Jaber, president-designate of the Cop28 summit, on Tuesday said the world needed a “major course correction” to tackle climate change.

The Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change said the world was way off track, with current approaches no longer "fit for purpose".

Speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai, Dr Al Jaber, also group chief executive of Adnoc and chairman of Masdar, said entire industrial systems that still run on the energies of the first Industrial Revolution must be transformed.

The hard reality is that global emissions must fall 43 per cent by 2030. That’s just seven years away. We need a major course correction
Dr Sultan Al Jaber

He said the UAE, as hosts of Cop28, was approaching the task of securing consensus at the crucial summit with humility, a clear sense of responsibility and urgency.

“The hard reality is that global emissions must fall 43 per cent by 2030. That’s just seven years away. We need a major course correction,” he said.

“We are not shying away from energy transition, we are running towards it.”

Leaders and delegates from across the world will travel to the UAE in November for the key summit at Expo City Dubai where they will assess how to address the escalating climate emergency. Dr Al Jaber’s role will be to shape its agenda and help countries try to find agreement during up to two weeks of intense and often tortuous negotiations.

The need for urgency is clear with devastating floods inundating Pakistan last year and extreme heatwaves scorching countries such as the UK, India, China and the US. Scientists predict that these events will become more common and deadlier.

Nations at Cop28 are expected for the first time conduct a “global stocktake” that examines whether pledges made under the 2015 Paris climate agreement go far enough to halt warming emissions.

Agreed in 2015 and signed by about 200 countries, the Paris accord aims to limit global temperature rises to 1.5ºC and to keep them “well below” 2.0ºC above pre-industrial levels.

Many of the world largest emitters — caused mainly by burning fossil fuels — have yet to submit plans to cut emissions in line with Paris and the UN and climate experts say the world is running out of time to act.

“We don’t need to wait for the stocktake to find out what it will say,” said Dr Al Jaber. "We already know that we are way off track. The world is playing catch-up when it comes to holding global temperatures down to 1.5ºC.”

It will be the second successive UN climate change conference to be held in the Middle East, following Cop27 in Egypt. One of the few main agreements last year in Sharm El Sheikh was the creation of a “loss and damage” fund.

The fund aims to help developing countries deal with the effects of climate change but many questions remain about how it will be financed and it is expected to resurface at Cop28.

Dr Al Jaber said the world had to shift from incremental steps to “transformational progress” across mitigation, adaptation, finance and also loss and damage.

On mitigation — cutting warming emissions — Dr Al Jaber said the world had to “triple renewable energy capacity, double hydrogen production, expand nuclear power, improve battery storage and, if we are serious about capturing emissions, scale up carbon-capture technologies”.

He said the energy transition must not leave behind the “800 million people” who are excluded from access to energy today.

“We must eliminate energy poverty, while keeping 1.5ºC alive,” he said. “And we must cater for a world that will be home to an additional 2 billion people by 2050. In short, we need to hold back emissions, not progress.”

As Cop28 president, he said he aimed to lay out a road map that was inclusive, results-orientated and “far from business as usual”. He highlighted the speech made by President Sheikh Mohamed at the summit in 2015, when he said the UAE would celebrate the last barrel of oil to be exported.

“It was a bold call to action that resonated deeply around the world and it absolutely resonated with me,” said Dr Al Jaber.

He added that he would engage the energy sector “because it is in our common interest to have the energy industry working hand-in-hand and alongside everyone on the solutions that the world needs”.

Dr Al Jaber said: "Economists estimate that decarbonising industry, the energy sector, power generation, transportation and food systems could create an additional 12 trillion dollars in economic value by 2030."

He said the UAE was “listening to everyone and engaging with everyone”.

"There are moments in history when humanity comes together to fight a common threat. Let's prove to ourselves that we can do it once again. Let's put our differences aside. Fight climate change, not each other.

“We believe that game-changing solutions can be achieved if the collective political will is there. It certainly is from the UAE. Let’s stop deliberating and start delivering.”

Updated: February 15, 2023, 6:22 AM