Abu Dhabi: Marking a first in the history of the UN climate change conference (COP), the UAE Consensus at COP28 in Dubai in December 2013 had achieved a breakthrough in getting nations and industry players to transition away from fossil fuels to reach net zero. A month on, COP28 President Dr Sultan Al Jaber has spoken in details of the efforts that materialised into success.
Dr Al Jaber, who is Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and COP28 President, told the Emirates News Agency (WAM) that the UAE should be very proud of its role in achieving the truly historic outcome achieved at the 28th edition of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in December 2023.
“The vision, support and guidance of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan; His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; and His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister, and Chairman of the Presidential Court, was essential in COP28 succeeding. This support helped us achieve unprecedented historical climate action achievements, culminating in reaching the historic ‘UAE Consensus’ that was agreed upon by 198 Parties,” Dr Al Jaber said.
“His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, also played a very important role as Chair of the Higher Committee for Supervising the Preparations for COP28, along with all the members of the committee. Her Highness Sheikha Maryam bint Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President of the Education and Human Resources Council, was also key to our success through her work leading the Executive Committee for Hosting and Managing Events.”
The President of COP28 also appreciated the role of the conference’s media committee, headed by Sheikh Zayed bin Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the National Media Office. “The media committee highlighted the UAE’s excellence and experience in planning for the future, economic development and diversification, creating knowledge, skills and jobs and providing an exceptional model for sustainable socio-economic development,” Dr Al Jaber said.
He added: “The COP28 Presidency implemented the approach of the Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, in communicating with the international community effectively and building good relations and qualitative partnerships that are in the interest of the nation and the global community. This is how we managed to deliver a historic COP, which will put the world on track and keep 1.5C within reach. We united the world around a landmark response to the Global Stocktake, through ‘The UAE Consensus’ that delivered a package of ambitious and balanced outcomes across the entire climate agenda. For the first time at a COP this included an agreement on transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems in a just, orderly and equitable manner.
New milestones, new targets
“The comprehensive COP28 Action Agenda, with its Four Pillars, covered all aspects of the climate agenda. For instance, over 133 countries have signed up to our global goal to triple renewables and double energy efficiency; 159 countries signed the UAE Declaration on Agriculture, Food and Climate; and 147 countries signed the UAE Declaration on Climate and Health.
“The UAE Consensus also delivered agreement on the unprecedented global goal to triple renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency by 2030, and a clear call to rapidly reduce methane and other non-CO2 gases this decade. In another global first, COP28 created, operationalised and began to capitalise on the fund to address loss and damage and made significant recommendations to transform the international climate finance system.
“COP28 mobilised over $85 billion for climate action, including the $3.5 billion for the Green Climate Fund; more than $187 million for the Adaptation Fund; $129 million for the Least Developed Countries Fund; the World Bank announcing an increase of $9 billion annually for 2024 and 2025 to finance climate-related projects; multilateral development banks announcing an increase of more than $22 billion toward climate action.
“All this adds to one real game-changer for climate finance, which is the UAE’s launch of ALTÉRRA. This is set to be the world’s largest private investment vehicle for climate action, with a $25 billion acceleration fund to steer investment towards clean technology and renewable energy projects, and a $5 billion fund to provide risk mitigating capital to incentivise investment flows into the Global South. Ultimately, ALTÉRRA aims to mobilise $250 billion globally by 2030, all focused on solutions to climate change.”
Transition in energy sector
Regarding his vision for emission reduction in the global oil and gas sector, Dr Al Jaber emphasised the importance of realism and balance. Recognising the sector’s significance in the global economy, he said, the COP28 presidency called for an organised, responsible, fair, and logical transition in the energy sector to ensure sustainable economic and social growth alongside emissions reduction. This requires substantial investments in research and development to enhance energy efficiency and reduce emissions in all stages of oil and gas production and usage.
He added that it is also important to enhance the development of carbon capture and storage technologies, which can help reduce the carbon footprint of hard-to-abate sectors such as cement, aluminium and steel production This must be done, he continued, while balancing economic development and environmental preservation to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.
“I reiterate that our goal is emissions reduction, rather than slowing down the rates of growth and progress. Therefore, we need solutions that bring about a significant qualitative leap; and technology is a fundamental enabler for these solutions,” the minister said.
Concerning his vision for improving the performance of international climate finance institutions, the President of COP28 stated that climate change has become the “challenge of the century” but also an opportunity. He added that confronting this challenge through taking the right actions and implementing proper investments would achieve the most significant economic leap since the First Industrial Revolution. He emphasised that achieving this requires annual funding ranging between $4 trillion to $5 trillion. Therefore, developing international climate finance mechanisms was a fundamental pillar in the COP28 action plan, highlighting the vital role of international financial institutions in achieving effective results in global climate action.
Dr Al Jaber stressed the need to support developing countries, ensuring they can develop and implement climate strategies that are transparent, supervised and monitored. This should involve directing investments towards projects that can mitigate the effects of climate change and enhance the ability of societies and countries to adapt.
‘Every voice was heard’
“Inclusivity was a key factor in our success; the science told us that COP28 had to be a COP of action, a COP for all. This inclusive approach meant that it was the most well-attended COP of all time, with around 85,000 Blue Zone delegates and more than 545,000 visits to the Green Zone. COP28 engaged with the widest range of stakeholders ever assembled at a COP, from world leaders to local leaders, to faith leaders, from youth to Indigenous Peoples, from NGOs to CEOs. Every voice counted. Every voice was heard. We hosted the largest youth delegate programme in COP history, ensuring meaningful engagement, which resulted in the first Youth Global Stocktake and this momentum continues by establishing the position of Youth Climate Champion for future COPs,” Dr Al Jaber said.
“The COP28 Business and Climate Philanthropy Forum is an important practical example that brought together more than 1,300 CEOs and leading philanthropists alongside Heads of State and Government from around the world. It was another first for COPs that saw more than 20 major initiatives announced.”