John Kerry has welcomed the UAE’s offer to host the Cop28 climate change conference in 2023.
The US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate was in Abu Dhabi for talks that focused on using climate change action to drive regional and global growth.
Mr Kerry was greeted on arrival by Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the UAE's Special Envoy for Climate Change and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, state news agency Wam reported.
His visit took place before Cop26, which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland in November.
It is Mr Kerry’s second trip to Abu Dhabi since he attended the UAE Regional Climate Dialogue a couple of months ago.
He emphasised the close, collaborative relationship between the US and the Emirates and their common approach to placing climate progress at the heart of domestic and foreign policy.
The envoys reaffirmed their countries’ commitment to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming.
They agreed that a comprehensive approach – including investments in renewable energy, carbon-capture technologies, nature-based solutions, climate-smart agriculture and other low-carbon solutions is not only essential in this critical decade for climate, but can also act as powerful drivers for sustainable economic growth and job creation.
"I am delighted to receive the US Special Envoy for Climate, John Kerry," Dr Al Jaber said.
"His return to the Emirates reaffirms the unique partnership between our two countries and our shared commitment to transform climate action into an opportunity for economic development and diversification.
"Doubling down on investments in innovative new technologies and R&D will pay dividends both in terms of climate progress and economic growth, and as global economies fully recover from Covid-19, smart initiatives can put the world on a low-carbon/high-growth trajectory that meets the Paris goals."
During his visit, Mr Kerry welcomed the UAE’s offer to host the 28th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (or Cop28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2023.
"I think it’s terrific that there’s interest. I think it’s great," he said.
"I personally can see strong arguments for the UAE’s candidacy. You know it’s not my decision alone or ours alone, at all, but the UAE is obviously a very strong contender for that.
"I think there are many reasons for the UAE presenting a very strong case."
Mr Kerry said there was recognition of the Emirates' major efforts to diversify into alternative and renewable energy.
The two envoys discussed progress on the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate Initiative (Aim for Climate) that the UAE announced alongside the US at the Leaders Summit on Climate in Washington.
Aim for Climate is a global initiative currently supported by nine countries. It is focused on increasing research-and-development investment and accelerating innovation into sustainable agricultural practices that can meet the needs of a growing global population with fewer environmental impacts.
Recognising that the agricultural sector accounts for nearly a quarter of global greenhouse-gas emissions, several additional country partners are expected to join the initiative in the months leading up to Cop26.
The US envoy was also briefed on the latest developments in the UAE’s strategy to develop hydrogen as a zero-carbon fuel.
Last month, the UAE launched the region's first industrial-scale green hydrogen project. This will use solar power from the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park to produce hydrogen on a commercial scale.
In addition, the UAE is using its existing gas infrastructure to explore increasing the production of blue hydrogen. Last month, a 1,000 kilotonne per year blue ammonia project to be located in Abu Dhabi’s Ruwais chemicals and derivatives hub was announced.
Blue ammonia will play an important role in the supply chain of the hydrogen economy as an efficient and safe way to store and transport hydrogen.
'Global solutions to global problems'
"I think it is very important that an oil and gas producing nation is smart enough to see that investing in alternative and renewable energy does not detract from economic prosperity or from income," Mr Kerry said.
"It actually builds additional and alternative sources. I think the leadership of the UAE is well aware that the planet has very serious problems, and the UAE is very busy looking at ways to abate and reduce and capture emissions.
"I think that’s one of the reasons the UAE won a seat on the UN Security Council, because people see the leadership of the UAE as thoughtful and wanting to contribute to global solutions to global problems."
Mr Kerry’s comments come after the joint statement issued by the Emirates and the US after the UAE Regional Climate Dialogue in April. Both countries committed to working together to take on the climate challenge by focusing their joint efforts on renewable energy, hydrogen, industrial de-carbonisation, carbon capture and storage, nature-based solutions and low-carbon urban design.
During his visit, Mr Kerry toured Adnoc’s Panorama Digital Command Centre, where he was shown the UAE’s tech-led approach to environmental responsibility within its hydrocarbon industry.
Panorama uses artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain to track all Adnoc’s material data, including crucial environmental key performance indicators.
Adnoc’s established record as one of the least carbon-intensive oil producers in the world is being enhanced by the expansion of its first in the region carbon-capture utilisation and storage facility.