Dr Sultan Al Jaber addresses Arctic Circle Forum at ADSW 2023

The COP28 President called on all parties to collaborate, communicate, engage and partner to fight climate change with a unified agenda.

The COP28 President called on all parties to collaborate, communicate, engage and partner to fight climate change with a unified agenda.

The global movement to fight climate change is a very important journey for the UAE and for the rest of the world. To achieve tangible progress, all relevant stakeholders must work together with renewed vigour and determination, to create worldwide progress that leaves no one behind.

March 15, 2023

COP28 UAE President Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, addressed the gathering at the Arctic Circle Abu Dhabi Forum in January. The Forum, organised with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), was held during the recently concluded Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW).

The primary objective of the Forum during ADSW 2023 was to discuss the importance of global cooperation in the Arctic region for the protection of the glaciers in the Third Pole/Himalayan area and the water supply in Asia. The event also served to highlight the leadership played by the UAE in furthering clean energy research and investment, and outlining the various ways in which renewable energy can help combat climate change worldwide.

In his speech, Dr. Al Jaber stressed the need for collective action to fight climate change globally, as well as the dire need to transform the way we address climate finance, which he said would be crucial to help vulnerable countries tackle the damage caused by climate-change-related phenomena.

“We will continue to stay the course”

Dr. Al Jaber commenced his speech by acknowledging that there was still a long way to go to achieve global climate change goals. “We will continue to stay the course,” he averred. “This is a very important journey for us and for the rest of the world.”

He continued: “The United Arab Emirates is keenly aware of the responsibility to the global community as hosts of COP28. And we also understand that this is a critical decade for our climate. We know that we only have a short amount of time to make up a lot of ground to help keep [global warming limited to] 1.5 [degrees Celsius] alive.”

The UAE Special Climate Envoy then elaborated that the world is aware that the polar ice caps are already melting, and every incremental addition to global warming means further catastrophic damage, including rising sea levels putting coastal communities at risk, disrupting biodiversity, impacting lives and livelihoods.

He emphasised that the UAE shared the concerns of the Arctic Circle along with the whole world. “We in the UAE are as affected and as impacted as the rest of the world with rising temperatures and rising sea levels,” he said. “That is why we, as the UAE COP28 team, are very determined to make COP28 a COP of true action, a COP for all – a COP where we collectively move from only goals and objectives to making sure that we get them all done, and translate those action plans onto realities across mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, and of course, climate finance.”

Outlining the goals to be achieved

In order to effectively fight climate change, below are some of the main steps required to be taken, according to Dr. Al Jaber:

  • For mitigation of the effect of fossil fuels on the climate, renewable energy generation capacity must be tripled by 2030.
  • In addition, hydrogen production needs to be doubled and the energy the world uses today needs to be rapidly decarbonised.
  • Food and agriculture systems, which represent some 30% of global emissions, need to be thoroughly transformed.
  • For climate change adaptation, the world’s most vulnerable communities must be protected from extreme weather and biodiversity loss, to achieve which adaptation finance needs to be doubled by 2025.
  • In the category of loss and damage, the agreements that were arrived at during the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference and the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, need to be converted into a fully actionable operational fund.

Climate finance needs transformational progress

The crux of Dr. Al Jaber’s speech at the Arctic Circle Abu Dhabi forum centred around the fact that much more work needs to be done on climate finance worldwide in order to ensure that finance is more affordable, more accessible, and more available to those most in need, particularly vulnerable nations and communities in the Global South.

“Ensuring that we work with like-minded partners around the world to help the reform that is seriously needed at this point in time for MDBs [multilateral development banks] and international financial institutions is a critical success factor,” said Dr. Al Jaber. “Without it, we will continue to face challenges – in particular, for those serious about helping advance this agenda and be more action-oriented for the Global South.”

The success of this effort hinges on significant changes to multilateral development banks and international financial institutions, as well as increased private sector investment. To achieve this lofty goal, all stakeholders need to collaborate more effectively than ever before to achieve a comprehensive transformation that will benefit everyone and leave no one behind, said Dr. Al Jaber.

Increased engagement equals greater progress

“The UAE has always positively and constructively engaged with the international community to make inclusive progress,” noted Dr. Al Jaber. “Our economic development model is based on putting the principle of partnership and real action. We will apply this same principle to COP28 because our experience tells us that the more you engage, the more progress you can make more quickly.”

“We will work closely with our friends in the Arctic Circle, along with all other stakeholders from the public sector, the private sector, scientists, and civil society. The progress the world needs – in fact, the progress the world deserves – will only come if we communicate, collaborate, engage, partner, and genuinely share the same agenda and interests, and share ideas more openly,” he stressed.

Arctic Circle instrumental in advancing climate agenda

Calling the Arctic Circle a highly effective organisation that has demonstrated its viability in a short period of time, Dr. Al Jaber said it has been instrumental in advancing the climate agenda in an extraordinary manner, based on key facts.

He also elaborated how, at the upcoming COP28 conference, the UAE will advocate for a fact-based approach to drive forward the climate action agenda with measurable impact, while seeking consensus that benefits both the climate as well as global economic growth, while ensuring a fair deal for the Global South.

He further reiterated the call to action made at the opening of ADSW 2023, saying: “We must cooperate, we must collaborate, we must share ideas, and we must bring the principle of partnership into practice.”

In conclusion, he stated: “Together we can turn progress into transformational progress that leaves no one behind, and moves from rhetoric into real, tangible results."