Dr. Sultan Al Jaber calls for “transformational progress” at Global Energy Forum 2023

The COP28 President also highlighted the UAE’s important role in fighting climate change as it stands at the “crossroads of the Global North and South".
August 17, 2022

Speaking at the 2023 edition of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Forum 2023, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber urged increased collaboration between the public and private sectors, and said the UAE is poised to listen, engage, and pursue a consistent, global consensus to contribute positively to protecting the planet and preserving it for future generations.

This was Dr. Sultan’s first public address after being named the President of the upcoming COP28 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which is scheduled to take place at Dubai Expo City in November 2023.

Environmental stewardship integral to UAE economy

Dr. Sultan elaborated on the country’s approach towards tackling the serious challenges posed by climate change, and highlighted various milestones on this journey. “The UAE is approaching the task of addressing climate change with humility, a clear sense of responsibility, and a great sense of urgency,” he said. “The UAE is exposed to the risks of climate change like all countries around the world, and considers environmental stewardship as an integral part of its economy.”

He further noted that the UAE as a nation is proud to be the host of IRENA, (the International Renewable Energy Agency) and it is the first country in the MENA region to commit to the Paris Agreement the international treaty on climate change that was adopted in 2015. He also added that the UAE was the first to “submit a nationally determined contribution, and set out a roadmap to Net Zero”.

Solutions to climate change exist

The COP28 President in his keynote speech stressed that multiple solutions exist to mitigate climate change-related challenges. Some of the potential solutions he recommended exploring include scaling renewables, exploring nuclear and hydrogen-based energy production, implementing carbon capture methodologies, and increasing energy efficiency.

Making oil and gas as minimally carbon-intensive as possible is also important, he added, noting that there will also be more solutions and technologies available in the future, which are currently yet to be developed.

Dr. Sultan Al Jaber at the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum Abu Dhabi 2023

Low carbon is the future

“Wind and solar added a record growth of 550 gigawatts between 2020 and 2022,” revealed Dr. Sultan. “They are set to grow more over the next five years than over the last 20 combined. The market is telling us something. We are at a turning point in history. Low carbon growth is the future, but we must get there much faster.”

He then went on to list a few requirements and milestones that could help us accelerate the path to a more sustainable, greener, environmentally friendly future:

  • Energy generation needs to triple, going from 8 terawatt hours (TWh) to 23 TWh by 2030.
  • Low-carbon hydrogen production needs to more than double to hit at least 180 million tons for hard-to-abate sectors.
  • Food and agriculture systems need to be fundamentally transformed, considering the fact that agricultural production as it stands at present accounts for nearly 30% of global emissions.
  • Greater investment is required in agritech and food production
  • Smarter water use must be encouraged

Working in an accelerated timeframe

All global efforts to combat climate change are taking place in an accelerated timeframe against a fast-approaching future, said Dr. Sultan. “Our world is on its way to being home to 9.7 billion people by 2050 and will have to produce 30 percent more energy than what is available today,” he said.

Regarding oil and gas, Dr. Sultan said: “As long as the world still uses hydrocarbons, we must ensure they are the least carbon-intensive possible. We will work with the energy industry on accelerating the decarbonization, reducing methane, and expanding hydrogen.”

He pointed out that the UAE has always been open to new ideas and stands ready to make a positive contribution, to learn from and continue to evolve. “We don't claim to have all the answers, but we believe we have something valuable to contribute. The UAE is at the crossroads of North and South, East and West. We will listen and engage with all those who want to engage. We will build bridges and pursue a global consensus in this very important, collective effort.”

Moving from ambition to real action

Along with the UN Climate Change High-Level Champion Her Excellency Razan Al Mubarak, and the Youth Climate Champion Her Excellency Shamma Al Mazrui, Dr. Sultan outlined his ambition to work together with the UN FCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) to “move from ambition to action”.

He issued an open invitation to all parties, including governments, private companies, and civil society, encouraging the development of an environment of cooperation, collaboration, sharing, and open dialogue. “I am here to listen, and I am here to engage. We can only succeed if we have an open and constructive dialogue. Let us together create a paradigm shift for tangible progress,” he said. “And let us remember that reaching net-zero emissions will deliver the biggest market transformation with the greatest economic and human promise since the First Industrial Revolution.”

COP28 to be “a COP of action, a COP for all”

In the ultimate section of his keynote, Dr. Sultan highlighted the importance of collaboration and cooperation required to make the upcoming COP28 a COP of concrete outcomes and practical actions. “We are united by our common goal and our common humanity. Together, we can ensure sustainable development for this generation and all generations to come,” he said. “There is no other way to address the global climate challenge: we need to make transformational progress. And for that to happen we must be prepared to transform the process, with the support of all parties and stakeholders.”

He concluded his speech by outlining his ambitious vision for the upcoming climate conference, stating: “We want COP 28 to transform systems and accelerate 2030 trajectories through game-changing partnerships, solutions, and real, tangible outcomes. We want it to be a cup of solidarity that bridges the global North and South, and includes the public and private sectors, scientists, civil society, women, and youth. We want it to be a practical COP, a COP of action, a COP for all, a COP that raises ambition and moves from goals to actually getting it done."