Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and COP28 President-Designate, addressing the summit in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and COP28 President-Designate, Dr Sultan Al Jaber today called for collective climate action from global leaders to transform, decarbonise and future-proof economies.

He was speaking to over 1,500 global policy makers, innovators, and industrial leaders at the UAE Climate Tech conference in Abu Dhabi with a call to accelerate the development and deployment of technological solutions to decarbonise economies and reduce emissions by at least 43 per cent by 2030 in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

In his remarks, he stressed the urgent need for a responsible and pragmatic energy transition that is laser-focused on phasing out fossil fuel emissions while phasing up all viable zero carbon alternatives while ensuring that the Global South is not left behind.

“The science is already telling us that we are way off track. The latest IPCC report has confirmed that the world must reduce emissions forty three percent by 2030, and that’s if we are serious about keeping the ambition of 1.5 alive. At the same time, we know that global energy demand will continue to increase because an additional half a billion people will join us on this planet by 2030,” Dr Al Jaber said.

“If we are going to maintain economic progress, while dramatically reducing emissions, we need nothing short of a major course correction. We need to translate what we agree inside the COP negotiation rooms into practical actions in the real world. We need to find a way to hold back emissions, not progress. We need breakthrough solutions, and the single most critical source of these solutions is technology.”

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Breaking the $1 trillion barrier

Continuing his remarks, Dr Al Jaber noted that clean tech investments broke the $1 trillion barrier for the first time in 2022, with substantial room for growth.

“I believe this transformation represents the greatest opportunity or human and economic development since the first industrial revolution, and I know we are moving in the right direction.”

“With the right policies stimulating the right investments, climate technologies could at least double their contribution to global growth, while removing up to twenty-five billion tons of carbon emissions annually. By leveraging climate technologies, we can build a new economic development model based on putting an end to emissions, while breathing new life into economic growth.”

Despite the growth of renewable energy, the majority of emissions cannot be solved by renewables alone, particularly in heavy emitting industries. Dr Al Jaber noted that there are more than 5,000 cement, steel and aluminium plants in the world today that together make up almost 30 per cent of global emissions and none of them can run on wind or solar alone.

Dr Al Jaber went on to highlight the critical role of hydrogen and carbon capture in enabling a responsible and pragmatic energy transition.

“Here is where solutions like hydrogen can play a role, but it needs to be scaled up and commercialized to make a real impact in the energy system. If we are serious about curbing industrial emissions, we need to get serious about carbon capture technologies. In any realistic scenario that gets us to net zero, carbon capture technology will have a role to play. Without it, the math just doesn’t add up.”

Dr Al Jaber emphasised the importance of continuing to invest in nuclear energy, and push for breakthroughs in battery storage, before moving on to the need for cooperation between agriculture and technology to drive down global emissions.

“We should remember that outside of heavy emitting industries, food systems and agriculture are the biggest single source of greenhouse gases, representing over one third of global emissions. We need technology companies to really focus on this space. The UAE is emerging as a leader in agri-tech, vertical farming, and the use of digital technologies to reduce energy and water use while increasing crop yields in harsh environments.

“Along with the United States, the UAE has launched AIM for Climate, a fifty-country coalition aimed at maximizing the use of commercial technology to reduce emissions and increase the availability of nutritious food around the world.”

2030 and 2050 targets

Dr Al Jaber repeated his call on the oil and gas industry to zero out methane emissions by 2030 and align around comprehensive net zero plans by or before 2050.

“While the world still uses hydrocarbons, we must do everything in our power to reduce and eventually eliminate the carbon intensity of that energy. That’s why I have called on the oil and gas industry to zero out methane emissions by 2030 and align around comprehensive net zero plans by or before 2050. The goal for this industry and all industries is clear. We need to phase out emissions from all sectors including transportation, agriculture, heavy industry, and of course fossil fuel emissions, while investing in technologies to phase up all viable zero carbon alternatives.”

“For this to happen faster, we need to re-imagine the relationship between producers and consumers. From one based purely on supply and demand, to a relationship that is focused on co-creating the future. We must create an active partnership between the largest producers of energy, the biggest industrial consumers, technology companies, the finance community, government, and civil society. It is an all-of-the-above effort: working together, the goal would be an accelerated, pragmatic, practical and just energy transition that leaves no one behind.”

Dr Al Jaber noted that maximising technology adoption in the Global South requires the public, multilateral, and private sectors to supercharge climate finance by enhancing the availability, accessibility and affordability of capital countries that need it most.

“It is critical that as we adopt new technologies, the Global South is not left behind. Last year, developing economies received only twenty per cent of clean tech investments. These economies represent seventy percent of the world’s population - that’s over 5 billion people. Technology is essential to helping the most vulnerable communities build capacities and leapfrog into a low carbon economic development model.”

Concluding his remarks, Dr Al Jaber noted that time is running out and the stakes for the planet are high. “While the historic Paris Agreement united governments around what the world must do to meet the climate challenge, COP28 will focus on the ‘how’.”

Echoing calls

Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure said: “Thanks to the wise leadership’s vision, the UAE continues to drive efforts towards reaching the goal of net-zero by fostering cross-border, cross-sectoral partnerships. These partnerships can accelerate the development and adoption of innovative decarbonization technologies. The UAE Climate Tech aligns with this priority and will strongly support the country’s climate ambitions and commitments.”

He added, “At the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, we aim to contribute to the UAE’s net-zero drive by closely collaborating with our partners. We will leverage advanced climate-smart technologies in the energy, infrastructure, housing, and transportation sectors, in line with the UAE’s objectives for the next 50 years.”

Salem bin Khaled Al Qassimi, Minister of Culture and Youth said: “At the intersection of culture and climate lies a unique opportunity to create a more sustainable future for our planet. We must work together to reduce the impact of climate change on the world’s cultural heritage and preserve traditional and indigenous practices. I hope platforms like the Climate Tech Conference will help initiate the dialogue to safeguard valuable traditional knowledge and bring it into the spotlight. The UAE is proud to lead the charge in this direction highlighting our commitment to

Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade said: “Today, more than 70 percent of the UAE’s economy is non-oil based. We are also one of the world’s leading investors in renewable energy, not just at home but across the developing world. These economic diversification and energy transition ambitions, however, require both a constant pursuit of new technologies and a clear understanding of how such technologies can be adopted on a mass scale. The UAE Climate Tech Forum, organized by ADNOC and Masdar, is playing an increasingly important part in these efforts and, as such, is the ideal example of how the UAE takes a progressive, next-generational approach towards achieving our obligations under the Paris Agreement. I look forward to supporting the forum and welcoming future technologies into the UAE ecosystem.”

Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology, said: “Promoting and accelerating climate action is a strategic priority for the UAE. We are working to drive decarbonization and sustainable growth through an integrated ecosystem with policy, technology, access to finance and public, private and international partnerships as the main enablers.

“As part of Operation 300Bn, we launched the Technology Transformation Program to promote the adoption and development of technology applications and solutions to drive efficiencies, accelerate decarbonization across the entire industrial value chain, and drive sustainable industrial growth.

We are also investing in R&D to drive technological advancements in key areas including hydrogen, CCUS, desalination, digital technology and smart mobility solutions in order to phase out fossil fuel emissions and create the green industries of the future.”

She added: “ The Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, in partnership with ADNOC and Masdar, is hosting the UAE Climate Tech forum to showcase the UAE’s trajectory towards decarbonization and Net Zero and the role that climate technologies play in accelerating this path.

The forum is an important regional and international platform for policy makers, technology leaders, climate experts and industry players to come together and explore the promising potential and investment opportunities of climate technologies and green industries in line with the Year of Sustainability and the UAE’s preparations to host COP28.”

Abdulnasser Bin Kalban, CEO of Emirates Global Aluminum (EGA) said: “Reaching net zero by 2050 will require new technologies, many of which must be developed by industries working together. At UAE Climate Tech we will discuss what we have achieved through our more than three decades of technology development at EGA, and what more must be done”.

Ahmed Mohamed Al Naqbi, CEO at Emirates Development Bank said: “Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing our world today, and its impact is far-reaching. As we approach COP28 in Dubai Expo City this November, the UAE Climate Tech platform presents an opportunity for us to showcase the power of cross-sectoral collaboration in the fight against climate change. At Emirates Development Bank, we believe that financing renewables and energy efficiency is critical to achieving the UAE’s Net Zero by 2050 goals and driving sustainable development in line with global efforts. Our participation in this event allows us to connect with industry leaders, finance experts, and technology innovators to accelerate the shift towards cleaner sources of energy and a decarbonized economy. We are excited to share our vision and commitment to supporting the global fight against climate change and to collaborate with like-minded individuals and organizations to create a sustainable future for all.”