There must be an urgent course correction when it comes to tackling climate change, said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, President-designate of the forthcoming Cop28 summit.
Dr Al Jaber, who also serves as UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, made his comments during his speech at the Amazon Summit in Brazil, where world leaders are meeting to discuss solutions to the climate crisis, with particular emphasis on saving the rainforests in the South American country.
“Our ability to capture carbon is not keeping with the rise in emissions,” Dr Al Jaber said on Wednesday.
“That is why the Cop28 presidency is calling for a major course correction, backed by a comprehensive plan of action.”
Any plan must fast-track an equitable and orderly energy transition, tackle climate finance while focusing on people's lives and livelihoods, added Dr Al Jaber.
He praised the leadership of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who has overseen cutting deforestation in Brazil by 34 per cent in the past six months and is working towards zero illegal deforestation by 2030.
Dr Al Jaber vowed to help build on that work and ensure biodiversity around the world would be protected.
“The UAE sees itself as a natural partner in this effort, as we continue to build on our own legacy of biodiversity and environmental protection, by restoring and expanding mangrove forests at home and around the world, he said.
The coming Cop28 conference will also provide an opportunity for indigenous communities to have their voices heard, added Dr Al Jaber.
“We will promote the essential role that indigenous peoples play in preserving natural ecosystems through sustainable land use practices,” he said.
“While representing 5 per cent of the global population, indigenous communities protect over 80 per cent of our biodiversity.
“Their rights and way of life must be assured and Cop28 will give space for their voices to be heard and their wisdom to be amplified.”
Finding funds to tackle the problems arising from climate change will be another key feature of the conference taking place in Dubai later this year.
“We need to expand available, accessible and affordable finance to meet the needs of the most vulnerable and ensure that adequate finance meets the needs of nature,” said Dr Al Jaber.
“This presidency will keep the pressure on donor countries to fulfil the overdue 100 billion pledge and seek to ensure that a designated portion of these funds is directed to nature and forest protection.”
In addition to Brazil's Mr da Silva, Dr Al Jaber also met Colombian President Gustavo Petro, with whom he discussed the importance of recognising the stewardship of indigenous people.
Bolivian President Luis Arce also met Dr Al Jaber for discussions on climate finance during the summit in Brazil.
Brazilian Minister of Health Nisia Trinidade Lima discussed the importance of keeping health care at the centre of the climate agenda with Dr Al Jaber.
Also on the agenda was the need for investments to enable climate-resilient, low-carbon and sustainable health systems.
Dr Al Jaber also met Brazilian Minister of Energy Alexandra Silvera on the sidelines of the event for discussions around “enhancing co-operation on accelerating a just and orderly energy transition, ramping up renewables, developing a hydrogen value chain and decarbonising the current energy system”.