Image Credit: Screengrab from the video

Abu Dhabi landmarks light up in celebration as the UAE is confirmed to host the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP28) in 2023.

Video tweeted by the Abu Dhabi Government Media Office showed iconic buildings in the capital lit up to celebrate the winning the bid to host the event.

On Thursday, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) officially announced that the UAE will host the 28th Conference of the Parties. The UNFCCC confirmation followed unanimous endorsement by the Asia Pacific Group of nations during COP26, where nearly 200 countries have gathered to take concerted action to cap global greenhouse gas emissions and unite against climate change.

Path-breaking initiatives at COP-26 at COP26, the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) – a major new initiative led by the UAE and United States (US) with the support of over 30 governments – was officially launched. AIM for Climate announced an "early harvest" of $4 billion of increased investment to accelerate innovation for climate-smart agriculture and food systems over the next five years.

The UAE has pledged $1 billion of increased investment as part of this initiative, which aims to increase and accelerate agricultural and food systems innovation in support of climate action. AIM for Climate is focused on leveraging high-potential economic returns and job creation from innovation investment in a sector that employs over 2 billion people and feeds the world’s growing population.

The UAE also joined the Global Methane Pledge building on its position as one of the least methane intense nations in the world. The nation will share its capabilities and experience in best-in-class methane performance with signatories to the EU-US led initiative that aims to cut global methane emissions by 30 per cent by the end of the decade. The UAE has long acted as a regional leader in methane reduction.

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.

Further, IRENA and the UAE announced the Energy Transition Accelerator Financing (ETAF) Platform, a new global climate finance facility to accelerate the transition to renewable energy in developing countries. The UAE committed US$400 million in funding provided by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) toward the platform’s goal of securing a minimum of $1 billion in total funding.

The UAE, represented by the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure (MOEI) also announced the Hydrogen Leadership Roadmap, a comprehensive national blueprint to support domestic, low-carbon industries, contribute to the country’s net-zero ambition and establish the country as a competitive exporter of hydrogen.

The Hydrogen Leadership Roadmap comprises three core objectives: unlocking new sources of value creation through exports of low carbon hydrogen, derivatives and products to key importing regions, fostering new hydrogen derivative opportunities through low-carbon steel, sustainable kerosene as well as other priority UAE industries and contributing to the UAE’s 2050 net zero commitments.

Moreover, the UAE has raised the mangrove-planting target in its second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement from 30 million to 100 million by 2030. The move consolidates the nation’s position as a global leader in nature-based climate change solutions, and will expand local mangrove forests to cover 483 square kilometers, sequestering nearly 115,000 tons of CO2 per year.

A testament to the UAE’s 30 years of positive climate action The road to COP 28 is a testament to the positive climate action initiated by the UAE for over three decades. The UAE was the first country in the Middle East & North Africa to ratify the Paris Agreement and commit to lowering its carbon emissions. It was also a pioneer in setting the region’s first renewable energy and biodiversity conservation targets to match its climate ambitions.

Among many sustainability achievements, the UAE has brought the cost of solar energy below that of all other electricity sources and built one of the world's first large-scale carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) facilities. It has invested close to US$17 billion in solar, wind and battery storage projects across six continents worldwide, including in 27 climate-vulnerable island nations.

The Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, which started commercial operations in April this year, will eliminate almost a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions of the UAE’s power sector once its four reactors are operational. The UAE was the first country in the Middle East & North Africa to announce a Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative – a national drive to make the country carbon-neutral by mid-century.

Following the Strategic Initiative’s launch, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) vowed to decarbonise its electrical grid at scale, starting January 2022. This bold move makes ADNOC the first oil & gas company to source up to 100 per cent of its grid power requirements from solar and nuclear energy.

The UAE’s long history of commitment to climate change started in 1989 when it first ratified the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone layer. Since then, it has joined the UNFCCC (1995) and ratified the Kyoto Protocol (2005). Two years ago, the UAE hosted the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting, attended by the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.