The UAE has called for an inclusive approach to unlock the economic opportunity in climate action and said it would support progress towards practical, commercial and scalable solutions if affirmed as hosts of Cop28 in 2023.
Addressing a panel discussion organised by the Atlantic Council think tank at Cop26, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change, said an umbrella approach bringing together all elements was needed for success in reducing the effects of climate change.
"We have adopted an inclusive approach to growth and progress, which contributed to many significant achievements over the past 50 years," Dr Al Jaber said.
"We will continue to follow this approach in line with the principles of the 50-Year Charter, which prioritises sustainable economic and social growth. Sustainable investments must first be sustainable financially."
Dr Al Jaber was speaking alongside US presidential climate envoy John Kerry, Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Raychelle Omamo, and Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
"First of all, let me thank the UAE and Dr Sultan Al Jaber," Mr Kerry told the audience. "He has just been a spectacular envoy and partner with us over these past months.
"The UAE hosted the very first Middle East climate dialogue, which involved four or five oil and gas producers, all of whom came on board for Net Zero, all of whom have been really committed to Cop and the process of responsible activity in all sectors, and I thank them for that and I wish them happy UAE Flag Day.
Mr Gates said: "Thanks to leadership of UAE and United States for kicking this off, we have about 30 countries now signed up for the initiative, where you make a commitment to raise your research and development for better agriculture, both seeds and livestock, digital mapping to help the farmers and digital advice."
He was speaking about the launch of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate.
Ms Omamo stressed the importance of an inclusive approach to climate action.
"Cop 26 must remember the African woman, because the African woman is the way forward on our continent," she said.
"She’s the farmer, she’s the person that deals with our SMEs, she drives our economies.
"So whatever applications that we use or innovations that we begin to develop, we must develop them with the view of building inclusive society, societies that are prosperous for everyone."
Dr Al Jaber reaffirmed that the UAE’s inclusive approach was important for "innovation to scale, from capital to R&D, technology development and project delivery".
"Inclusivity means all sectors – governmental, private, academic and civil society – working together," he said.
"This must include countries with major hydrocarbon resources. They have huge energy experience and an essential role to play. The world needs to be open, not closed. It needs answers, not justifications.
"We began our investments in renewable energy 15 years ago. We focused on science and innovation, providing the space and the capital to turn ideas into world-class projects.
"Today, we have renewable investments worth $70 billion across 70 countries. We will grow our renewables position and we already have plans to increase the renewable energy capacity fourfold to about 9 gigawatts by the end of 2025."
Dr Al Jaber also spoke on the UAE’s offer to host Cop28 in 2023, which was endorsed by the UN Asia-Pacific Group of nations.
He said the UAE had set its ambitions high, and that the nation would approach dialogue and discussions with the same progressive drive, and focus on achievement and progress that enabled the UAE to mark significant achievements over its 50-year history.
"We seek to make Cop28 both flexible, compatible with the requirements of both developed and developing countries, and inclusive, recognising there are various paths towards net-zero emissions," Dr Al Jaber said.
"It is about getting to the destination on time, not about the route to get there."
On this year’s UN Climate Conference, Dr Al Jaber said there was "good progress and a great sense of hope. I would like to see Cop26 propose practical plans and solutions and avoid a one-size-fits-all approach.
"Certainly, developing nations require a completely different set of policies and incentives.
"Climate action should not become an economic burden on developing nations. Our focus must be on holding back emissions, not slowing growth and progress.
"It would be fruitful for developed nations to meet the $100 billion pledge on climate finance. The successful delivery of Article Six to set up functioning global carbon markets would be another strong indicator of the success of Cop26.
"If Cop26 can achieve all of this, then it will have been a big success. A successful Cop26 will also create momentum for Cop27, Cop28 and beyond."
If UAE is affirmed as the Cop28 host in 2023, Dr Al Jaber said he would work closely with the UK, Egypt and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to push for practical solutions that are commercial and scalable.
"The UAE has deep practical experience in energy, climate action and renewables, and we have a strong track record of mobilising support to address common challenges," he said.
"The Cop process is critical to the world, and each Cop must build on those that have come before.
"Cop28 is also the year of the global stocktake and this presents its own opportunity to assess where the world is and to further accelerate climate action."
Dr Al Jaber said collaboration and partnership underlined the UAE’s recent climate initiatives.
For instance, the new Energy Transition Accelerator Financing Platform, a $1 billion US-funded facility, launched in conjunction with the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency, is designed to finance 1.5 GW of new renewable energy power projects in developing countries by 2030.
The Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) is a major joint initiative by the UAE and US with the support of more than 30 other countries.
The goal is to accelerate innovation in climate-smart agriculture and food systems over the next five years.
"Investing in innovation and advanced technological solutions in agriculture, such as heat-resistant crops, vertical farming and digital agriculture, will help enhance resilience in parts of the world that are most vulnerable to climate change, Dr Al Jaber said.
As an early mover in renewables, the UAE has the world’s largest solar park and a growing peaceful nuclear power sector.
The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is set to provide up to a quarter of the nation’s electricity needs when it becomes fully operational, saving up to 21 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually.