Cop26: UAE outlines vision for sustainable economic growth at heart of climate action

Dr Sultan Al Jaber says the UAE bid to host Cop28 has been made in a spirit of collaboration on opportunities for solutions for future social impact and progress

United Arab Emirates' Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber the Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change speaks at the COP26 U. N.  Climate Summit, in Glasgow, Scotland, Wednesday, Nov.  10, 2021.  The U. N.  climate summit in Glasgow has entered its second week as leaders from around the world, are gathering in Scotland's biggest city, to lay out their vision for addressing the common challenge of global warming.  (AP Photo / Alberto Pezzali)
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Tackling climate change and creating sustainable economic growth was placed at the centre of the UAE's national address by Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change, in Glasgow on Wednesday.

Dr Al Jaber expressed thanks to the Asia Pacific Group of nations for their endorsement of the UAE’s bid to host Cop28 in 2023 and said the Emirates was focused on developing international cooperation and partnerships to advance efforts to address the climate crisis.

At the UN's Cop26 Climate Summit, Dr Al Jaber pointed to the spirit in which the UAE has welcomed the world to Expo 2020 Dubai – ‘connecting minds , creating the future’ – and said this was instructive for the Cop28 bid.

“We are proud to have been endorsed as the hosts of Cop28 by the Asia Pacific Group of nations," he said. "I would also like to pay tributes to all partners and friends backing our nation's bid. We look forward to upcoming sessions and discussions with the aim of securing international support for our offer to be confirmed as the host of Cop28 by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change."

"The UAE is honoured to welcome all parties to work on developing an ambitious agenda for Cop28 in 2023 that will accelerate the development of practical solutions and make crucial progress on climate action.”

Dr Al Jaber said the Emirates climate action agenda was comprehensive and its focus was on opportunity for sustainable economic growth.

“Our nation’s Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed ... set out the principles of sustainability in all sectors," he said. "These principles have been integral to our nation’s efforts in protecting the environment, diversifying energy sources, and developing policies to reduce the impact of climate change. The effects of climate change transcend borders, and are relevant to all nations, small or large, developed or developing, rich or poor.”

The UAE's leadership views climate action as an opportunity for sustainable economic and social growth, and this drives the country’s climate strategy, he said.

Dr Al Jaber said the UAE has entered a new era of transition in the energy sector and advised against a one size fits all approach to climate challenges. He noted that the country has set a target of 2050 for carbon neutrality, in line with the nation's priorities. The national strategy sets out clear goals for participation of all stakeholders.

“We view this as an opportunity to focus on new paths towards the future," he said. "We believe that investing in low-carbon solutions in the energy sector will drive economic prosperity. Launched last October, the UAE ‘Net Zero by 2050’ Strategic Initiative reflects the vision of our leadership and the ambitions we have outlined for the ‘Next 50’ years of our nation. It is also an open call from the UAE to the world for partnership and cooperation to find sustainable solutions, while creating incentives for economic growth,” he said.

The UAE has pledged to make climate security a priority when it joins the UN Security Council in 2023 and called on developed nations to fulfil the $100 billion pledge to vulnerable countries that must mitigate and adapt to climate change.

The launch of the Energy Transition Accelerator Financing (ETAF) Platform at Cop26 offered a new global climate finance facility to accelerate the transition to renewable energy in developing countries. The UAE has committed $400 million in funding, provided by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), as the platform sets a goal of securing $1 billion in total funding.

In addition the UAE is a founder of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) – a major new initiative with the United States supported by over 30 governments.

Along with other states, the UAE has signed up to the Global Methane Pledge as one of the least methane intense nations in the world. Over five decades, the country has successfully reduced the volume of natural gas flared in the domestic energy sector by more than 90 per cent. In turn, the UAE’s hydrocarbon industry today holds one of the world’s lowest methane intensities of 0.01 per cent. The UAE will build on this foundation of ultra-low methane intensity in the energy sector to further improve its methane performance.

Through the launch of the Hydrogen Leadership Roadmap the UAE focuses on accelerating progress in the development of clean, scalable and commercially viable low carbon industries.

As home to three of the largest and lowest cost solar power plants in the world, the UAE has also constructed the first large-scale carbon capture, utilisation and storage facilities in the region.

Updated: November 10, 2021, 1:49 PM