Dr Sultan Al Jaber: Keeping 1.5ºC goal 'alive' top priority for Cop28

Cop28 President-designate speaks of the need to build consensus as the UAE prepares to host climate conference this year

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Special Envoy for Climate Change and President-designate of Cop28, speaks during the World Government Summit in Dubai. AP
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Dr Sultan Al Jaber, President-designate of the Cop28 climate change summit, on Wednesday said his main priority would be to keep alive the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels.

The UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change told Reuters that tackling climate change required a united effort.

The Cop summit will be held in the Emirates this year, with the UAE becoming the second Arab state to host the event after Egypt last year.

“I have no intention whatsoever of deviating from the 1.5ºC goal,” said Dr Al Jaber in his first interview since being assigned the role of Cop28 President-designate.

“Keeping 1.5ºC alive is a top priority and it will cut across everything I do.”

Cop28 is scheduled to take place in Dubai between November 30 and December 12. As Cop28 President, Dr Al Jaber will help shape the conference agenda and intergovernmental negotiations.

He said he would focus on building consensus and was ready to listen.

“We have a major challenge ahead of us,” Dr Al Jaber said.

Some activists have questioned the decision to name an oil-producing country as host of a major climate summit.

In response, Dr Al Jaber said: “How about for once, we capitalise on everybody's capabilities and strengths and fight climate change rather than going after each other?”

He said his experience at the renewable energy company Masdar, where he is chairman, led ultimately to his appointment as group chief executive of the national energy company Adnoc with a mandate to “transform, decarbonise and future-proof” it.

The 2015 Paris Agreement commits countries to limiting the global average temperature rise to well below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels and to aim for 1.5ºC, a level which, if crossed, could unleash far more severe climate change effects, scientists say.

Echoing remarks he made on Tuesday at the World Government Summit in Dubai, Dr Al Jaber said a major “course correction” was needed to stick to the target.

“We need to be honest with ourselves — we know the whole world is way off track,” he said.

An approach that leaves no one behind, including oil and gas companies, was necessary so they can be part of the solution rather than being categorised as part of the problem, he said.

While voicing appreciation for climate activists' passion and the need for their voices to be heard, Dr Al Jaber said: “You have to balance passion with being realistic. This is what we need to focus on.”

On the need to use more capital, he referred to the reform of international financial institutions and engagement with the private sector.

“The private sector will be interested in exploring opportunities especially in the vulnerable communities if concessional instruments are out there supported by international financial institutions to help lower the risks,” Dr Al Jaber said.

He also saw the Just Energy Transition Partnership model that was approved for South Africa at Cop26 and Indonesia at Cop27 as a successful way to drive progress in transitional economies that should be expanded.

“The key to their success so far has been the public private partnership approach that blends concessional and private finance to lower investment barriers and risks,” Dr Al Jaber said.

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Updated: February 16, 2023, 8:06 AM