US calls Gulf countries ‘part of the solution’ to climate crisis

Biden administration seeks expertise from UAE and Saudi Arabia at Leaders Summit on Climate

FILE - This Jan. 14, 2015 file photo shows oil pump jacks in McKenzie County in western North Dakota. Dozens of European lawmakers, business executives and union leader called Tuesday for the United States to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in the coming decade compared with 2005 levels. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)
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The administration of US President Joe Biden has thanked the UAE and Saudi Arabia for joining this week’s climate summit, saying Gulf oil exporters were key to keeping global temperature rises under control.

Two senior officials from the Biden administration told The National  that the two Gulf countries were fast becoming innovators in cutting emissions of planet-heating gases.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Saudi Arabia's King Salman are due to take part in Mr Biden's online Leaders Summit on Climate which takes place on Thursday and Friday.

One official highlighted the UAE’s advanced water management technology and Saudi Arabia’s transition from a crude exporter to capturing solar rays and powering its $793 billion economy with hydrogen as "part of the solution" to the crisis.

“It doesn't matter if you're in Australia or the US, the UAE or Saudi Arabia, you're going to have to figure out how you move an economy that is partially reliant on carbon-intensive activities, to one that is not,” the official said.

Mr Biden’s summit will bring together leaders from 40 countries to drive global momentum to tackle climate change before the UN's Cop26 meeting in Glasgow in November.

The 2015 Paris Agreement had most world governments pledge to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other planet-heating gases and keep global warming under 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and even 1.5°C.

The planet has so far warmed by 1.2°C and is headed for at least 3°C this century, raising the risk of wildfires, droughts, floods, hurricanes and other disasters that could force millions of people from their homes.

“If we're going to reach the 1.5°C aspirational goal ... it's going to require particularly oil-producing nations and others to decarbonise, to support decarbonisation and to invest in many of these solutions,” another official said.

The summit offers the US a chance to rejoin global efforts on climate change after the Trump administration pulled the country from the Paris deal and dismantled environmental regulations.

Mr Biden is expected to unveil America’s new carbon-emission targets at the summit and pledge money to help smaller economies fight climate change and adapt to a warmer planet.

The US and China, the world’s two biggest carbon polluters, agreed to co-operate on climate change before the summit, in which Chinese President Xi Jinping will take part.

The EU on Wednesday agreed on a major climate change law to reduce net emissions by at least 55 per cent by the end of the decade from 1990 levels.

The summit comes only weeks after US special envoy for climate John Kerry visited the UAE for the Mena Regional Climate Dialogue in Abu Dhabi.

Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg this week cast doubt on the US climate summit, saying world leaders were not truly treating the “crisis as a crisis”.

“Lots of insufficient climate ‘targets’ and ‘pledges’ being presented … they equal surrender on the 1.5°C target," Ms Thunberg tweeted on Wednesday.

"Same facts pretty much apply to all high-income nations."