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The UAE celebrates its 52nd Union Day tomorrow, a remarkable achievement of unity and progress. As the host of COP28, the UAE is also welcoming world leaders to one of the most vital conferences for the future of our planet. In the year of sustainability, I hope that the spirit of cooperation and vision that inspired the UAE’s formation will also motivate the delegates and participants at COP28. Together, with cooperation and alignment towards a common cause, we can achieve the incredible, and the UAE is the perfect example.

However, the world faces many challenges in its quest to combat climate change. We are not on track to meet the Paris agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to well below 2°C. Carbon emissions are still rising, global population and energy demand are growing, and almost 800 million people still lack access to electricity.

But we should not lose hope. The energy transition is the most significant socio-economic and environmental transformation since the Industrial Revolution, and the UAE is at the forefront of this change.

The UAE was the first Gulf country to sign and ratify the Paris agreement as well as being the first country in the region to commit to an economy-wide reduction in emissions by 2030. As the first country in the region to set out an energy strategy to 2050, the UAE has set bold and ambitious targets to increase the share of clean energy in its power mix. The UAE is also leveraging nuclear, renewable, and low-carbon technologies to decarbonise its energy production and developing new low-carbon industries based on hydrogen.

Khalid Bin Hadi, Managing Director of the UAE, Siemens Energy

Recognising the importance of diversifying its economy and reducing its dependence on fossil fuels, the UAE has fostered a culture of innovation across various sectors, including renewable energy.

Accelerate decarbonisation efforts

The UAE is demonstrating its strong commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and leading the energy transition both locally and internationally. The nation has invested more than $50 billion in renewable energy and clean tech in 70 countries and plans to invest another $50 billion in the coming years.

Under the leadership of COP28 President-Designate, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the UAE aims to make the conference more inclusive and action-oriented. His unique perspective on the energy transition incorporates a stronger collaboration from thought and action leaders across the private sector and the energy industry to encourage decarbonisation efforts.

Moving to net-zero energy is the ultimate goal that all countries aspire to, but it cannot happen overnight. Each country is at its own stage of the energy transition and faces its own challenges and opportunities. We must pursue progress over perfection. Therefore, we need to increase energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions.

Collaboration is key. We cannot tackle the energy transition in isolation. Governments, industry, academia, and civil society all have their part to play.

The window for meaningful change is closing, and the time to act is now. Governments will take a decision on the global stocktake at COP28, which will assess the collective progress towards the Paris Agreement’s goals.

The UAE is committed to delivering on its decarbonisation goals and is urging other nations to accelerate their energy transitions to achieve climate neutrality. By striving to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, we can effectively address climate change, fulfil the objectives of the Paris Agreement, and prevent the most severe potential outcomes. ●

The writer is Managing Director of the UAE, Siemens Energy